DAVAO CITY – Workers of a banana packing plant in Barangay Pantaron, Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte cry foul after the management refused their entry in the workplace for “abandoning their work”. Workers say that they did not abandon their work because they already worked for eight hours.
Twenty three regular workers in Packing House 84 owned by the “Nader & Ebrahim s/o Hassan Philippines, Inc.” decided not to work beyond eight hours after the management failed to pay their overtime pay since January.
The workers claim that the Department of Labor and Employment had announced that overtime pay in agriculture sector should be implemented beginning June 1 this year.
According to Vernecita Labra, one of the members of United Pantaron Banana Workers Union, they informed their lead woman, Maria Billy Amihan, that they will not work for eight hours on Wednesday (October 22) because they are “tired of working for more than eight hours without receiving proper compensation.”
“She answered that it’s up to us,because it’s our right anyway,” Labra said.
Labra said that Amihan asked them Wednesday if they will push through with their plan. Labra said it was their “final decision.” At 4:40 PM the 23 workers left the workplace.
By Thursday morning the management refused them entry.
The MSIA Employees Development Cooperative, an agency that manages the workers, issued a Notice to Explain that was signed by Human Resource Supervisor, Myra M. Betonio last October 23.
According to the Notice, the workers abandoned their duty at the packing house “even when the processing is not yet done”.
“Your action is a violation to our company policy as to abandonment of post for leaving your work area, insubordination for disregarding company authority, and sabotage for intentionally disrupting the operation,” it added.
The 23 workers were given five days to submit a written explanation as to why they “should not be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action for the above mentioned dereliction of duty.”
The workers also went to the barangay at 9:25 am Friday to ask that their explanation of their refusal to work be noted in the barangay ledger. The workers maintained that they have not done anything wrong and cited in the ledger Article 87 of the Labor Code of the Philippines that states that “work may be performed beyond eight (8) hours a day provided that the employee is paid for the overtime work, an additional compensation equivalent to his regular wage plus at least twenty-five percent (25%) thereof.”
The same article said that “Work performed beyond eight hours on a holiday or rest day shall be paid an additional compensation equivalent to the rate of the first eight hours on a holiday or rest day plus at least thirty percent (30%) thereof.”
Noel Dumaquita, union president, what they did was a consequence of the management’s refusal to pay them for their overtime.”
“Dumaquita said that the management instead “made a strategy to remove their overtime by giving them a quota.”
“Even if we work for more than eight hours but when we fail to meet the quota, they still will not pay us for working overtime,” Dumaquita said.
“When we complained, they told us that every company has its own policies,” he said.
Dumaquita also complained of their dilemma as to who is their real employer.
“We don’t know who our direct employer is if it’s the NEH or the MSIA. Because they would pass us around when we have complaints,” he said.
The union also complained of lack of medical facilities in their workplace.
The United Pantaron Banana Workers Union is currently not recognized by the management because they lack certification of election. The union, however, is registered under the Department of Labor and Employment.
Dumaquita said that they are willing to go on strike should the management fail to act on their demands. (davaotoday.com)