Kids as human shields in Gaisano strike?

Published by rudy Date posted on August 23, 2008

GOVERNMENT agencies have been asked to look into reports that workers of Gaisano Capital South in downtown Cebu City were using children as shields during a strike protesting the department store’s allegedly unfair labor practices.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo said he saw at least three children bearing placards among the picketers when he surveyed the protest outside the department store last Thursday.

This, the councilor said, was a violation of the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, which protects children against exploitation, among others.

He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the police should look into the actions of the picketers.

Joy Lim, information officer of the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), said there was only one child last Thursday, not three as Carillo alleged.

The child, she said, was not used as a shield but was brought by her mother, an employee of Gaisano Capital South, who could not find anyone to leave the child with.

“It is just normal for a child to go with her mother. But we did not ask the kid to carry a placard,” Lim said.

She admitted, however, that because the child was there, ALU-TUCP, which is helping the retrenched workers, made a placard that said “Gaisano Capital management, pabalika na akong mama sa trabaho.”
Lim said she advised the mother not to bring her child to the picket again.
She said the city government was using the issue of the child to divert attention from the real issue of their allegedly unfair labor practices by Gaisano management.

Meanwhile, ALU-TUCP has submitted its response to the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the National Labor Relations Commission against the picketers.
ALU-TUCP denied that the strike, which started Aug. 13, prevented non-striking employees from entering the store.

“Illegal acts could not possibly be committed by the strikers… because of the presence of several members of police authorities backed up by fully armed security guards hired by (Gasisano management),” said the labor group.–Marian Z. Codilla, Cebu Daily News

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