Petron oil refinery union goes on strike

Published by rudy Date posted on January 6, 2020

By ERNIE B. ESCONDE, Manila Times, 6 Jan 2019

Members of the Bataan Refiners Union of the Philippines (BRUP) working at the Petron Bataan Refinery (PBR) here entered the second day, Sunday, of their strike over alleged union-busting and noncompliance by management with their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The strikers, carrying big streamers, stayed at the sides of the Roman Highway fronting the PBR compound in Barangay Alangan, but they dispersed a few minutes past 10 in the morning .

Union officials said they will discuss the preventive suspension order issued by management on Sunday morning to four of their members, adding they will return to the picket line on Sunday afternoon.

Some officers of the Coalition of Labor Unions of Bataan (CLUB) and the Philippine Trade and General Workers Organization visited the workers in their picket line.

Across the road fronting the PBR compound, police and plant security guards kept watch on the strikers.

“Narito kami para bigyang suporta ang Bataan Refiners Union sa kanilang inaalis na karapatan bilang manggagawa (We are here to support the Bataan Refiners Union whose rights as workers have been stripped),” CLUB president Edwin Sebastian said.

The CLUB reportedly has 15 unions with 12,000 workers as members.

“Nagugulat kami. Itinutulak sila ng management (We are shocked. The management is pushing them),” Sebastian said when asked to comment on the alleged preventive suspension order issued by management to some striking workers.

Gerald Medina, BRUP president, said their labor dispute started in 2018 yet.

“Unang-una, pagbabawas ng benepisyo, karapatan namin at pagpapalit ng CBA provisions na matagal ng nakasulat na pinipilit baguhin (First of all, the management is reducing the workers’ benefits and curtailing our rights and is changing provisions in the CBA that have been agreed on a long time ago), ” Medina listed the causes of their protest.

He said their meal allowance was not given to them and their members allegedly harassed that led to termination of more than 100 of their union members.

Medina said they could not believe that the company was losing although it may have shares of ups and downs but never in the negative.

“Kailangan daw nilang magtipid, kaya nagbawas ng mga tao. Ang tinanggal nila karamihan members ng union. Napakalinaw na union-busting ito (The management said it had to cut costs, so it laid off people. Most of those who were terminated were union members. This is a clear case of union-busting)” he added.

He said what was hurting was that majority of those removed from the service were officers of their union, from secretary down.

The company also mentioned redundancy or the presence of excess workers as reason for the layoff and assigned supervisors or men from management to fill up positions of those terminated, Medina added.

“Inuunti-unti ang union namin. samantalang kapag nag-uusap kami ng management sinasabing walang galawan, pero supervisors na nakaupo sa puwesto namin ngayon. Kaya kumilos na kami, kung hindi mauubos kami (Our union is slowly being decimated, when the management had assured us that no one would be touched, but supervisors are now holding our jobs. So we had to take action, if not we would all be gone) ,” the union president said.

Of their 630 union members, according to Medina, 176 have already been terminated.

With their strike, he said the operation of the plant should have stopped but management supervisors took their place

“Dahil nakapuwesto ngayon hindi properly trained sa area na yon, malaking threat sa community. Ang planta may hydrogen unit na delikado, mga kemikal. Kapag hindi na-handle properly, magkakaroon ng malaking threat hindi lamang sa mga empleyado sa loob na pumalit sa amin kundi delikado sa surroundings (Those ho took over our jobs are not properly trained, that is a big threat to the community. The plant has a hydrogen unit, which is delicate, there are chemicals. If this unit is not handled properly, there would be a big threat not only to the employees who took over our jobs but also to the surroundings),” Medina added.

He said they will go on strike until what is due them is given to them.

“Wala kaming hinihiling kundi ipatupad ang CBA at ibalik ang mga tao namin (We only want the management to honor the CBA and reinstate our members),” Medina added.

He said the supervisors taking their place was strike-breaking and the issuance of the preventive suspension orders to the union members for joining the strike was a violation of labor laws.

“Only the National Labor Relations Commission can declare a strike illegal,” Medina pointed out.

No one was available for interview at the refinery.

“This is Kai Palaganas from Petron. We will issue our statement once approved,” was the message by text received from Petron Manila office.

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