Samelco I union members vote to stage a strike
TACLOBAN CITY – A big majority of Samar I Electric Cooperative (Samelco I) Employees’ Union members have voted yes to strike during Sunday’s balloting as conciliation over collective bargaining agreement (CBA) deadlock issue failed.
All of the 96 labor union members who joined the 10-hour voting are in favor of a strike that may occur in March 4 or seven days after the submission of their strike vote report to the office of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).
The union has 105 members and nine of them were not able to join the voting held at the Barangay Central Hall in Calbayog City, said Divina Gracia Balite, Samelco I Employees Union president.
The strike arises from the management’s refusal to recognize the union as a legitimate bargaining agent and repeatedly rejecting their CBA proposals
“We held strike balloting for us to be prepared if in case the management will remain hard headed. We can still withdraw this plan if the management will negotiate with us within the seven-day strike ban period,” Balite told Leyte Samar in a mobile phone interview.
The seven days waiting period is intended to give the Department of Labor and Employment an opportunity to verify whether the projected strike really carries the imprimatur of the majority of the union members.
The worker group filed a notice of strike with the NCMB last Jan. 31 claiming that the management has prevented the workers from forming a union and refused to enter into a CBA.
NCMB regional conciliator-mediator Tomas Biboso said that a third conciliation meeting will be held this afternoon hoping to settle differences and hear plans of both the labor and management group.
“We are still waiting for the decision from the Office of the Labor Secretary on the management’s appeal denying the legitimacy of employees union. We were told that that the decision will come out Monday or Tuesday this week,” Biboso said in a phone interview.
On November 28, 2012, the management filed an appeal to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz denying the legitimacy of Samelco I Employees Union, despite August 2012’s ruling of Labor department’s regional office arbiter recognizing the union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of the rank-and-file employees of the electric cooperative.
“From my experience, I don’t think the Secretary of Labor will reverse the certification of a regional arbiter since the latter is aware of the situation in the plant level. However, we will still see the final stand of the Secretary on the appeal,” Biboso said.
He said that if in case the ruling will favor the management, the workers cannot go on strike since they are not recognized by law as legitimate group.
Jose Mendiola, the management’s legal counsel, maintained that they are willing to negotiate once Sec. Baldoz will certify the legitimacy of the union.
“In this instance, the union has not been finally certified as the sole and exclusive bargaining agreement since we questioned the proceedings of the Certification Elections…It would be illegal for the union to go on strike while the case is still pending,” Mendiola said in a statement. (Sarwell Q. Meniano)
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