Picket Line: the last line of defense for workers rights

My strong sympathy and support to the workers who stood to protect and depend their fundamental rights

picke line
Image from the Page of Justice for Citra Mina 78. 1 year commemoration of their Strike

I remembered, sometimes of 1988 we also stage a strike in our company for illegal dismissal. We are the minority group in our pro company union. We are more than 300 to be dismissed due to company out sourcing. At that time sub-contracting and out sourcing was just starting.

Because we all in the middle age, we are the active union members. Three (3) years before of our dismissal we had already foresight the plan of the management of sub-contracting and out sourcing. We studied the possible plan of our company and it was presented to our Union officers, but they ignored it- they told us, “that is not true”.

Early of 1998, the management dismissed almost all of the middle management. Because the middle managers are not organized they just accepted their dismissals, received a token separation fee.

After the dismissal of the middle managerial personnel’s, we strongly believed the next will be our rank averaging length of service of five (6) years. Last quarter of 1988, we received a dismissal letters effective immediately with mentioned about separation fees.

After consultation among affected employees, we arrived to one position; the dismissal are illegal for having no cause. We approached our union officers to get their support but no availed.

To open the table for a dialogue and negotiation, we decided to filed Notice of Strike to NCMB but denied for having no union representation.

We prepared to stage strike, even do we have no legal personality to go on strike. After three days of consolidation we erected the picket line at 3:00 in the morning of Monday.

Once again we returned back to NCMB to file a Notice of Strike but this time have a Federation with us to file the notice. Negotiation was opened up, while we are on strike. We strongly opposed the strike policy of free ingress free egress, we had paralyzed the operation.

On Strike

Hard to live at picket line. We have almost 50 persons who man the picket line. Fifty person to feed everyday including their relatives who leaved their home because they are renting house. They stayed in the Picket Line. We build a good shelter for them. Collectively produced our daily foods, despite everybody has no cash on hand. We have so many appliances in our shelter in the picket line. The appliances are all loans and are due to surrendered to the company who provide appliance loan to us. We have electricity tapped from the electrical post illegally.

Everyday a team will go to market without money to produced our foods. What we had are only a suck, megaphone and a banners to solicits foods and supply in the market place in different areas- like Concepcion market, Marikina market, San Mateo Market and Montalban Market, sometime in various market in Quezon City. Everyday we have a plenty of food supply, market vendors and businesses  are almost all supportive to Us.

Every Saturday and Sunday our picket line are festive, it is the day whereas members who get jobs come to man the picket line, also it is their pay day, they bring foods and supply to us who are stay in. They stay at the picket line until Sunday afternoon.

Harassment to the Picket Line

We Suffered from harassment from our Union officers, they treat us to dismantled our shelter and remove the picket line. Even the CAPCOM on that time are always in our strike area. Even our co employees who cannot come to work due to our strike also harassing us. We do not give up. We know what we do is our rights, we acknowledge that we had illegal acts- like the policy of Free Ingress, egress. But we need to be strong to protect our rights and our position, our demands.

Our Demands

While we are on strike, negotiations are on going before the NCMB. First they offer 8 days per year of service from nothing. Later on they offered 12 days per year of Service but not acceptable for us.

For almost 5 months of (illegal) strike and negotiation, we demanded for 21 days per year of service. Since the January is coming the pick of our production and demands of supply to over seas. Finally, the management agreed to our demands of 21 days per year of service and a proportionate of good well bonus. We sustained almost five months of strike before we left the picket line.

Our Lesson

Hard to go on strike without legitimate organization. Unity make us strong, cooperation vital to success. Masses during that time very supportive to those who are in struggle. More learning from experience. STRIKES ARE NOT FOR FUN, IT IS A DO OR DIE SITUATION. ITS BETTER TO FIGHT AND DIE, THAN TO DIE NOT FIGHTING. ###

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