Workers to DOLE: ‘We were fired for taking holidays’
MANILA, Philippines—Saying they were dismissed from their jobs just because they marked Labor Day and other public holidays, 24 union leaders from a Laguna-based company had their heads shaved as a form of protest in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) main office in Intramuros, Manila, on Monday.
The officers of the NXP Semiconductors Cabuyao Inc. Workers’ Union said they were fired after the management accused them of launching illegal strikes on April 9, 17, 18 and May 1. They maintained that the company did not have the right to do that since the said dates were all regular holidays declared by the DOLE.
NXP is one of the biggest manufacturers of electronic components in the country and a supplier to top brands like Apple and Asus.
The union president, Reden Alcantara, said the labor department had been vocal about punishing employers who violate laws on regular holidays, but it’s the workers like them who ended up paying a heavy price for choosing to spend those holidays with their families.
In a statement posted on its website, the NXP said that the dismissal of the 24 union leaders on May 5 was not a decision it made lightly.
“We weighed all of our options and felt that this was the only way forward, given the illegal action and disruptive behavior of the workers union. We are more than open to come to a mutual agreement with the union and all those involved as soon as possible,” the statement read.
The company added that the employees were dismissed for “encouraging union employees to be absent from work without leave on three separate occasions in April.”
It also explained that the law clearly states that a company may ask its employees to work on public holidays, provided that they will be paid double.
“On the said occasions, employee absenteeism spiked sharply, which impacted our output and our ability to serve our customers,” the statement read.
But Alcantara said these rules did not give the company the right to “accuse union leaders of illegal strike on the basis of the number of those who did not go to work.”
“The company has not filed any such case against workers in the past, proof that its motives for making this accusation are malicious,” he said.
The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), which supports the union, said the dismissal stemmed from the management’s refusal to heed the demands of workers in the ongoing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations.