Unions get all demands in deal signed with Sofitel
Jobs guaranteed in case iconic hotel reopens

Unions get all demands in deal signed with Sofitel

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:32 AM July 04, 2024

Unions get all demands in deal signed with Sofitel

WORKERS NOW WAIT A thorny labor-management issue is resolved as Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City closes down for renovations. The photo was taken on June 30, the last day of operations at the 46-year-old five-star hotel. —Grig C. Montegrande

MANILA, Philippines — The management and the workers’ unions of the five-star Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City have reached an agreement settling their dispute that arose from the decision of the owners to close the iconic hotel for renovations starting July 1.

The National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant, and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), in a statement issued on Wednesday, confirmed the agreement, which was signed on Tuesday night and brokered by the Department of Labor and Employment through its National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).


“Sofitel is the beloved hotel that it is because of the service that we workers provide. We are happy that the agreement between our parties reflects this fundamental fact,” NUWHRAIN said.


READ: Sofitel hotel closes; Union to push fight

It said the agreement with the Sofitel management secured virtually all the unions’ demands.

“The unions have gotten what the workers rightfully deserve: guaranteed jobs should the hotel reopen, and respect for their unions,” it noted.

Separation package

The workers, who have been picketing the hotel for more than a month, are seeking continuing employment and recognition of their unions until it reopens.

They claimed Sofitel owners intended to reopen a new hotel after tearing down the current 46-year-old building and that the closure was simply to bust the unions.

Under the settlement agreement, employees have until July 5 to voluntarily signify acceptance of a separation package, which includes retroactive salary increases, the computation of separation pay at 100-150 percent of the adjusted basic monthly salary per year of service, and the grant of an “appreciation bonus” for every covered employee.


The separation package and accrued benefits are to be paid no later than July 10.

The “no work, no pay” principle applies, and all other employees’ benefits are suspended.

Return to work

For employees who did not accept the separation package, their employee-employer relationship with the hotel will be deemed suspended for the duration of the closure.

If Sofitel reopens under the same company, it will inform these employees about the reopening 15 days before the scheduled date.

These employees may then report for work, and the hotel will accept them back under the same terms and conditions as their existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA), after which the employer-employee relationship will resume.

During the closure, the two hotel workers’ unions, the Philippine Plaza Chapter (PPC), representing rank-and-file employees, and the Philippine Plaza Supervisor’s Chapter (PPSC), both affiliates of NUWHRAIN, will continue to exist and be recognized as exclusive bargaining agents.

The PPC, whose CBA expires in December this year, and the PPSC, whose CBA expired in June 2022, may renegotiate for new agreements in accordance with the Labor Code of the Philippines. The two unions have a total membership of more than 1,000.

The settlement agreement was signed by the unions’ officers, led by their presidents Nestor Cabada and Arnold Bautista, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila Inc. executives Esteban Peña Sy and Shunsuke Nakata.

Broad support

The document was also signed by Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma and Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr., and NCMB officials led by deputy executive director Teresita Audea, regional branch director Edgar Aquino, and conciliation-mediation division chief Ericson Igual.

“This victory could not have been possible without the strong unity of Sofitel’s workers and the invaluable solidarity that the supportive public provided,” the unions said.

Among those that expressed solidarity with the unions were the office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, Akbayan Party, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations-Asia Pacific, and other labor organizations overseas.

“To the workers, both from the public and private sector, that actively supported and closely followed our struggle, let our success inspire you,” the unions said. “The Sofitel campaign’s victory is an important reminder: When workers organize, when we fight, we win!”

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Lauding the agreement, Nagkaisa president Jose Matula said the weeks of picketing and attending the conciliation hearings paid off. Matula and other Nagkaisa officials joined the hotel picket on June 29.


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