Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Chong Won- Independent
(United Workers of Chong Won)
Update as of November 14, 2006 to February 2008
On November 17, 2006 the management-led “Caretaker Committee” (supposed to be a caretaker committee of the union of the workers at CWFI) had filed a petition to cancel the registration of the union at the Region IV-A office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
A series of hearings had been scheduled by the DOLE Region IV office from December 12 & 28, 2006; January 16, 2007; and February 6, 2007.
On December 4, 2006 CWFI management had the name of the company outside the factory replaced with C. Woo Trading. They have initially removed the name Chong Won on November 6, 2006 but the workers/strikers do not know then what’s the new name of the company) Also, a representative of the Workers Right Consortium (WRC) Mr. Bent Gert arrived to follow up the investigation they have conducted about the labor rights violations of CWFI. Unfortunately, Mr. Yong Ryul Kim, president/owner of CWFI do not want to to be interviewed nor talk with him about the investigation. On December 12, 2006, CWFI filed an illegal strike case against the Nagkakaisang Mangagagawa ng Chong Won-Independent (NMCW-Ind.) at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC-RAB IV) Regional Arbitration Board IV. On the very same day, the notice of hearing scheduled on December 14, 2006 had been personally-delivered to WAC’s office by NLRC RAB-IV.
On December 14, 2006 during the first hearing of the illegal strike filed by the CWFI management against the union and its membership, Verite started their investigation on the alleged violations of CWFI on labor rights and other standards. These investigations and workers interview were conducted succeedingly from December 14 & 27, 2006 and January 11 & 27, 2007.
On December 15, 2006 CWFI resumed work (from the temporary shutdown ). Only line leaders first came for work to do samples. And they again started hiring scabs to do the production work.
On December 28, 2006 the CWFI started distributing half of the amount of 13th month pay to the strikers in the house of the production manager, Antonio Felismino. Majority of the workers do not want to get this money because it is only half and Felismino , who is a loan shark inside the company will deduct their loans (the money owed to him by the workers) from this small amount.According to some of the workers who went to get their separation pay, Felismino was convincing the workers to agree to get a separation pay equivalent to eight days. He told the workers to enlist their names if they agree on this.
On January 4, 2007 the container van with imported materials from Wal-mart arrived at the factory. The strikers saw the care taker committee meet inside the company and they also saw Chong Won management went to the PEZA police.
On January 5, 2007 the union received a subpoena (a notice to appear before the court) regarding the case filed against the union by the PEZA police and Jantro security guards. It turned out that both unions on strike , the NMCW and KMPJI (Phils Jeon union) had received the same criminal cases filed against them by the PEZA police and Jantro security guards.
On January 9, 2007, the management led the illegal attack and dismantling of the makeshift tents or the picket line of the workers on strike. According to the workers on strike, they have noticed that the Starex van of the company went out at around 6:30AM and returned with unidentified male passengers at around 7:30AM. By 8:10 A M, the management-led caretaker committee (Antonio (production manager), Vangie (supercisor), Malou, Gemma, Flor, Louis, Bernardo, Dante, Jun Cuaco, & Marlene) went out of the gates of CWFI in the picketline and talked with the strikers. Antonio Felismino said the buyers do not want to take orders from Chongwon because of the strike/strikers and that the strikers were a mess and mess/eyesore in front of the company and they have requested that they remove the picketline. They have also said it was because of the strike that's why they don't have job (which is not true because they’re the ones working on the order of Walmart with target shipment on 13 January 2007).
For a while they have been telling the strikers the same story they have been telling them when the picketline was dismantled for the first time in October 19, 2006 led by the same thugs/goons and few contractual workers. After a while around 20 PEZA policemen and Jantro security guards arrived and stayed in the vicinity of the company. After a while a PEZA policeman signalled to Antonio Felismino to stop talking and go inside the company. And after a while around 30 contractual workers came out with the seven thugs/goons sneaked inside the company earlier in the Starex van. The seven unidentified goons/thugs tear down the makeshift tents of the picket line and they were assisted by the contractual workers. The strikers tried to save their tents and other belongings but they were no match to the thugs/goons and contractual workers (most of the strikers manning the picketline are women and the PEZA policemen and Jantro security guards’s presence was intimidating enough for them).
The strikers who were present in the picket line including the union secretary, Florencia Arevalo tried to stop the perpetrators from tearing down their tents and taking their belongings but they were shoved and pushed by the thugs. During this incident, one of the strikers noticed that one of the goons was taking out a knife or a bladed weapon from his waist and apparently would attack Ms. Arevalo when she tried to stop the men from dismantling their picketline. It was reported that the thug/goon was stopped by a Jantro security guard and the bladed weapon had been confiscated. The confiscated belongings & materials of the picket line had been loaded in the truck owned by Chong Won and was brought to the PEZA administration. It was Boyet Lontoc, the husband of the officer-in-charge (OIC) of Tanggulan Security Agency (the security agency of Chong Won security guards), who had been heard ordering the unidentified thugs and contractual workers to load all the strikers’s belongings in the truck. He even helped the goons in dismantling the picket line. The strikers also noticed that the thugs were reeking of alcohol during that time.
During the scuffle, Leonila Aurin, one of the strikers, fainted and had to be rushed to the nearby hospital. She suffered from minor bruises and contusions.
After the dispersal, Atty. Omar Francisco arrived at Chong Won around noontime. The goons stayed at the office of Chong Won also for a while and left only in the afternoon.
After the incident, the strikers still stayed in the area without the tents or anything to protect them from nature’s harsh elements like sun or rain. They refused to leave the area even if the security guards especially Boyet Lontoc had been bugging them all the time to leave the area.
The union secretary Florencia Arevalo told them that if they can show them a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or any order from the court that would tell them that their picket line is illegal, it is the time for them to leave the place.
On January 17, 2007, the picketline has been dispersed again. During this incident, only five strikers named Norma Ligones, Rebecca Bernal, Edna Estaloza, Gloria Escarilla, Joel Ysulan and Heriberto Patricio were left inside the zone to maintain their picktline. At around 9:00 in the morning, while Joel and Heriberto were looking for drinking water, the strikers noticed the vehicles of PEZA Police and Jantro Security guards passed by their post and later stopped near the checkpoint located in front of TLI factory. Then, the policemen and security guards on board the vehicles went out and they saw policewoman Sampayan, taking video footage of the strikers with their makeshift tents while walking towards the Chong Won factory. Upon seeing them, the strikers had an inkling already that their picketline will be dispersed again so they have thought of putting together their things and belongings in a safe place but unfortunately they were not able to do it since the incident happened very quick that they only noticed Boyet Lontoc, the OIC of the Jantro guards together with an unfamiliar man fastly approaching them. They saw the man came from CWFI factory and carrying a knife.
The strikers were shocked at that moment and they were immobilized when the man tear down all the pieces and materials used to cover their makeshift tents with the used of a knife he was holding while staring at the strikers angrily. Boyet Lontoc ordered the Chong Won guards to load the strikers’s belongings into the truck owned by Chong Won. The strikers tried to stop the guards and Boyet Lontoc from loading their things into the vehicle. Even Joel, one of the strikers tried to get inside the truck of Chong Won and recover their things from the truck but he was forcibly taken down from the truck.
After the dispersal, the PEZA police and Jantro guards who were just standing-by a few distant from the strike post, just left as if nothing had happened. Some of the things and belongings of the strikers were left scattered on the ground.
On the same day, Chong Won management had placed or constructed a guard house and guards on the former location of the picket line of the strikers in order to stop them from rebuilding their temporary tents for the picketline as a symbol of their strike.
During that night, Boyet Lontoc used force in confiscating and tearing down whatever materials the strikers used to protect them the rain or dew.
On January 25, 2007 the scabs/contractual workers were told they don’t have work and they will resume work again on February 26 but on that day when they reported for work, they were told there is still no work yet and they were told to return on April.
On February 5 & 6 the union filed a criminal case against Chong Won and the unidentified men regarding the violent dispersal and looting of their belongings on January 9 and 17 incidents.
On February 6, 2007, the regional director of DOLE region IV office issued a decision on the petition for cancellation of union registration cancelling or revoking the registration of the union. The union received this order on February 14, 2007. The union appealed the said order.
In the first week of March 2007, CWFI had stopped its production after the Walmart-commissioned investigation report conducted by Verite came out with recommendations which the company refused to follow or implement. The summary of these recommendations based on the Report of Wal-mart Stores, Inc. on March 26, 2007 were as follows:
1. The withdrawal of the termination notice serviced to 117 strikers. This will also entail:
a. The factory drops its illegal strike case
b. Reviewing and monitoring the procedures for return and the aftermath of strikers’ return to work.
2. The development of a strategy for ensuring that management cooperates with a course of action that avoids a factory closure.
3. The management of the first round of negotiation meetings between union (see updated recommendations below) and management via a third-party facilitator. The focus on initial meetings should be on confict resolution. Subsequent meetings should focus on CBA negotiations.
4. The requirement of factory management to undergo freedom of association training.
5. The place ment of the factory on a rigorous social compliance performance improvement plan that is monitored quarterly for at least one year (Verite’s Comprehensive Audit report identifies the areas for improvement, ) with future steps to be determined.
On March 29, 2007, the NMCW union officials had a meeting with Walmart. A Memorandum of Understanding had been presented that had to be met/followed by CWFI for Walmart to continue placing orders or doing business with Chong Won. (See Wal-mart’s MOU)
On April 2007, NLRC Labor Arbiter Portillo issued an order/decision citing the strike as illegal.This decision was in favor of CWFI management’s petition. The union appealed the said order for there was an alleged bribery incident that took place between Portillo and the CWFI for a favorable decision amounting to P 300,000.00.
On May 18, 2007, NMCW-Ind. through the union president and secretary Resurreccion Ravelo and Florencia Arevalo filed a case against Arbiter Portillo before the Philippine Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) following the said bribery allegation. On May 23, 2007, NLRC LA Guan issued the decision on unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint (12-18913-04-C) filed by the NMCW against CWFI. The decision found CWFI guilty of ULP. Said decision became final and executory in the absence of a timely appeal from CWFI management. The union subsequently filed the next necessary course of action which is a criminal complaint in Imus RTC with the IS No. 07-4451 ( the violation of Art,. 248 of the Labor Code in Relation to Art. 288 of the same code).
On June 10, 2007, the picketline was dismantled again. As detailed in the sworn statement of the strikers who were present during the incident, the dispersal happened at around 8:30 in the evening. The seven strikers manning their picket line in front of the company were violently-attacked by unidentified men wearing scarves. During that time, as the strikers were already preparing to take a rest for that night, a closed-van with Rapid Air Freight written on its side and with plate number UBD-390 stopped in front of the company. The said men were armed with crowbars and knives as they dismantle the makeshift tents of the strikers. The strikers noticed that those men were drunk as they are dismantling the strikers’ tents late at night.
Ms. Arevalo, the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Chong Won-Ind. union secretary tried to stop the men from dismantling and grabbing their tents and throwing their personal belongings to the street. While doing this, one of the attackers attempted to stab her with a knife but luckily she was able to resist and stopped by the other man since it was not already part of their contract as he told the other attacker. Ms. Arevalo got scars and bruises on her hands/arms for preventing the unidentified men from destroying their picket line.
The workers also asked from their attackers a copy of an order of demolition from DOLE or from court or PEZA, but according to the said men, they were hired with a contract of two million pesos by their superior and they were ordered to dismantle the strikers’s makeshift tents so that they can get rid of the strikers and clear the premises of the company. The attackers also told them that if they don’t leave and stop the strike, they will return and kill the strikers since they were paid already. The men successfully demolished the picketline and not satisfied with destroying the tents, they had also broken all the bottles containing cooking oils, food and water of the strikers. After that, the said men left the area laughing.
Although the workers were afraid, they have decided not to leave their post. During the scuffle, one of the strikers had pulled out something which covered the plate number of the vehicle used by the unidentified men and they found out that the vehicle’s plate number is UBD-390. They have also managed to take some pictures of their attackers.
Shortly after, at around 3:00 in the morning of June 11, 2007 or seven hours after the first attacked, around 20 bonnet-masked men in fatigue pants and armed with M-16 assault rifles arrived in three vehicles with covered plate numbers at the workers picket line. They rounded up the strikers in one corner of their vehicle and ordered them to lie face down while the barrel end of the M-16 rifles were pointed at the strikers’s head. Ravelo was kicked at the back and her hair was repeatedly pulled by one of the armed men. Heriberto was pulled by unidentified men and he was ordered to crawl on the ground on his knees while being kicked on his back and gun pointed on his head. He was told to cross the street away from his female companions by crawling on his knees. Another striker, Elsie Gomez, obtained wounds on her left foot and bruises on her right arm and other parts of her body.
The attackers took all their personal belongings such as clothes, bags, camera, 3 walkmans, 1 wristwatch, 1 cellphone, and wallet . Only the clothes they’re wearing had been spared from these men who took all their belongings. They also took a sack of rice, gas stove, the materials for the tents and the food of the strikers. The unidentified men also threatened to kill the strikers if they will still see them in the picketline in the morning.
During the second attack; only Elsie Gomez, Resurreccion Ravelo, Heriberto Patricio, Maria Victoria Buergo, and Norma Ligones were left at their picketline that had been dismantled since Arevalo and Jennifer Floresca have left for the police station to report the first incident and have it recorded in the police blotter. They also went to the hospital for consultation/check-up about Florencia’s condition because she’s not feeling well after she encountered the attackers. Before the second incident happened, at around 11:30 in the evening, the strikers noticed a black vehicle with plate number WTH-196 running slowly and when it had reached the strikers’ post, they saw two men riding on the vehicle looking at them from the slightly opened car window. The said vehicle with plate no. WTH-196 that was hidden & covered earlier, was one of the vehicle used by the attackers on the first incident.
The strikers went to the PEZA police station to seek assistance but were told by the police on-duty that they could not assist them nor conduct investigation because the next day is a declared holiday. They went also to the Rosario Philippine National Police (PNP) Municipal Station but were likewise refused of any assistance by Deputy Chief of Police Senior Inspector Jonathan Genetiano allegedly because the place of incident is not under their jurisdiction. The PNP investigators SP03 Philip Gomez and P01 Eric Pureza also refused to blotter the incidents on two occasions.
According to the strikers, only minutes after the demolition of their picketline, the PEZA Police and Jantro Security Guards immediately put up a checkpoint on both ends of the street.
This incident had prompted calls of investigation regarding this incident. It baffles the strikers and the international supporters from human rights and labor rights organizations and unions. They were asking how the bonnet-masked men armed with high-caliber firearms had been able to enter and exit the tightly-guarded CEPZ.
According to the strikers, the first of group of attackers masked with scarves and armed with crow bars and knives seemed familiar and the same goons/thugs who had attacked their picketline with the production manager, Antonio Felismino on several incidents of their picketline dispersals on Oct. 19, 2006; January 9, 2007; and January 17, 2007.
Prior to the incidents of June 10 & 11, 2007, the Chong Won management through Mr. Yong Ryul Kim had sent a “notice to vacate” to the strikers on May 16, 2007 after they have received an order declaring the strike illegal. But the union responded that they still have the right to appeal said decision.
On June 19, 2007, the union had found out that the CWFI filed a petition for voluntary insolvency at Regional Trial Court (RTC ) at Imus, Cavite but the petitioner was the C. Woo Trading Inc. not the CWFI.
On July 10, 2007, members of NMCW-Ind. with the support of Solidarity of Cavite workers (SCW and Phils Jeon union ) had camped-out in front of the CEPZ to show that they were indignant and protesting the violent dispersal that had happened to their picketline on June 10 and 11 2007. The said camp-out lasted for only one day since the Mayor of Rosario, Atty. Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente , promised the workers that he will help resolve their problem/issue and will talk to PEZA and the investors. On the same day, Greg Rushford, an American journalist from Far Eastern Economic Review and author of the Rushford report met the leaders of NMCW to interview them regarding their strike and their issues. He was particularly interested in the response or action made by Wal-mart regarding the strike.
On July 2007, NMCW-Ind. filed an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) case against the CWFI (now C. Woo Trading, Inc.) on the use of strikebreakers and refusal to bargain with ultimately resulting to run-away shop at the National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC).
On July 25, 2007, NMCW-Ind. through the union president and secretary Resurreccion Ravelo and Florencia Arevalo filed a case against Arbiter Portillo before the Philippine Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) in line of the assailed and questionable decision he had issued citing the strike as illegal.
Recently, a perjury case was filed by Atty. Omar Francisco with IS No. 07-7949 against Resurreccion Ravelo and Florencia Arevalo. This was in relation to the bribery case they have filed against Labor Arbiter Portillo at PAGC. The case left the union wondering on why it was Atty. Francisco and CWFI who have been reacting to this case filed against Labor Arbiter Portillo which even led to file a perjury case against two mentioned union officers.
On August 3, 2007, eight US apparel and retail giants sent a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo following up the first letter they have sent in November 2006 expressing their concern on violent attacks on striking workers and assault and killings of labor rights promoters. The August 3 letter again expressed concerns on the violence experienced by the strikers in CWFI. This pertains to the infamous dates of June 10 & 11, 2007 wherein the strikers were twiced attacked by masked men with high powered rifles/guns.
The US apparel and retail giants that signed the said letter were: Wal-mart, American Eagle Outfitters, GAP, Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne, Phillips-Van Heusen, VF Corporation, and Polo Ralph Lauren.
From August 31 to September 5, 2007 two union officers from NMCW and KMPJI went to Korea to drum beat the issue of their strike, file a complaint regarding violations of the Guidelines for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at the National Contact Point in Korea, and ask for support to Korean NGOs, media and Korean people as a whole.
They have also met with the officials of the Department of Labor and Employment and Foreign Investment Policy and the Ministry of Foeign Affairs and Trade.
The filing of the OECD complaint was made possible through the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) and Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) who act as co-complainants with the case along with the WAC and the two unions.
On November 2007, Hon. Judge Quisumbing of RTC-Imus issued an Order denying the workers/union to be included in the creditors in the case of voluntary insolvency filed by CWFI management. The affected workers are 120 strikers A Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said Order was already filed and is pending for resolution.
On November 23-27, two Korean attorneys and a representative from Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) came to investigate the case of Chong Won and Phils Jeon most especially after the reported violent attacks in their picketlines on June 10 & 11, 2007 at Chong Won and August 6, 2007 at Phils Jeon picketline. They also went to the Office of the Secretary of the DOLE and Commission on Human Rights to follow up the status of the two union’s cases in the respective agencies.
On November 27, 2007, Labor Arbiter Robert Jerez of the NLRC RAB-IV issued a decision regarding the case of Unfair Labor Practices filed by NMCW-Ind. against the CWFI wherein the respondent was declared guilty of ULP and was directed to cease and desist from interfering with, restraining or coercing union members in the exercise of their rights to self-organization by way of contracting out services or functions being performed by them. However, the NMCW claims for moral exemplary damages are dismissed for lack of merit.
On December 2007, a criminal case for grave threat was filed by the union through the union president Resurreccion Ravelo in lieu of the dreadful incident that took place on June 10&11, 2007 at the workers picketline in front of Chong Won factory.
On December 3, 2007, NMCW-Ind. members went to NLRC Commission at Banawe, Quezon City to show their protest and opposition to the order issued by NLRC RAB IV that their strike was illegal. Their appeal on this case is now pending on this court.
On December 10, 2007, NMCW strikers together with the members of KMPJI-Ind.had shown protest at the Korean embassy calling for an investigation of their Korean employers for violations of their labor rights and the Philippine labor laws and the violent dispersals they have suffered since they started the strike on Septemebr 25, 2006.
On December 2007, Greg Rushford published his article about Wal-mart and the union at Chong Won at the Far Eastern Economic Review and Rushford report at http://www.rushfordreport.com/ On January 15, 2008, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) came to interview the workers of CWFI and Phils Jeon Garments regarding their case which led them to conduct the strike.
On February 19, 2008 Judge Norberto Quisumbing of Imus RTC had granted the motion for reconsideration of the NMCW union that they be included in the creditors in the petition for voluntary insolvency filed by CWFI.
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