วันเสาร์ที่ 28 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2552
Workers in Undergarment Factory Demand Wage Hike, Benefits
Published on October 18, 2008
Triumph International Philippines is the largest undergarment manufacturer in the country. It also manufactures for popular brands like Marks & Spencer and Victoria’s Secret. But behind the glamorous women gracing the company’s advertisements are women workers who are struggling for just and life-sustaining wages and benefits.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Triumph International Philippines is the largest undergarment manufacturer in the country. It also manufactures for popular brands like Marks & Spencer and Victoria’s Secret.
Workers who were mostly women wore red and arrived at the corner of the Gil Puyat St. (formerly Buendia) and EDSA shortly before 3 p.m. October 15. Their placards, adorned with pieces of underwear, read, “Rice Subsidy, Dagdagan!,”(Increase the rice subsidy!) and “Government Wage Increase, Ipatupad!” (Implement the government-mandated wage increase!), among others.
As they marched toward the ALCO Building where the Triumph International’s sales warehouse is located, the workers chanted, “CBA, Ibigay na!” (Approve the CBA!) CBA stands for Collective Bargaining Agreement between the management and the union.
Isabelita dela Cruz, president of the Bagong Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Triumph International (BPMTI), said that their CBA negotiations might reach a deadlock. She said that the management has been prolonging the talks for three months now.
The company’s 20,000 square-meter plant at the FTI Complex in Taguig, Metro Manila has a total of 1,300 workers, of which 900 are union members. Almost 95 percent of the workers are women, dela Cruz said.
Sabino Graganza, vice president of the union, said that they are asking for a P125 ($2.60, based on an exchange rate of P47.61 per US dollar) wage increase over the next three years.
Graganza said the workers receive an average of P450 ($9.36) per day. Some are paid the minimum wage of P382 ($7.94). The amount is only 38 percent of the family living wage in Metro Manila pegged at P871 ($18.11).
The union is also demanding for the across-the-board implementation of past wage orders. He said that wage orders number 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 issued by the National Capital Region’s Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) were not applied to most of the workers.
The wage orders – with the first issued in 2004 – amount to a total of P152 ($3.16) inclusive of the emergency cost of living allowance.
Graganza said senior workers and newly hired workers have very minimal wage differentials. He added
that they are fighting for the mandatory retirement of those who have worked for the company for 30 years. He said at least 150 workers who are below 50 years old have been in service since 1975 or 1977.
He explained that they are also demanding for an increase in their rice subsidy. In 2007, he said they were given only P675 ($14.03) per quarter.
Dela Cruz denounced the management’s insincerity in efforts to resolve the labor dispute. She said that the management did not face them earlier that day for the continuation of the negotiations.
She said that the management did not want them to hold the rally in Makati.
“Ayaw nitong makita ng mamamayan at ng international community ang totoong kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa Triumph–busabos sa sahod at benepisyo.” (The company did not want the people and the international community to see the real conditions of the workers of Triumph – deprived of just wages and benefits.)
If the management would continue to ignore their demands, dela Cruz said that they will be compelled to take higher forms of action, including work stoppage and strike.
Meanwhile, Nitz Gonzaga, vice chairperson for women of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), praised the women workers’ courage and determination. Gonzaga attended the protest action to express solidarity with the workers of Triumph.
She said that women bear the brunt of the economic crisis. “Ang lalakas ng boses dahil tagos sa sikmura ang ipinaglalaban nila. Sila ang nagbabadyet sa pangangailangan ng pamilya.” (Their voices can be heard loudly because they are fighting for gut issues. They are the ones who budget for the needs of their families.)
Amid the global crisis, Gonzaga said women workers must be more assertive of their rights. (Bulatlat)