DOLE urged to allow KEPCO workers to hold strike

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2015 05:01 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2015 01:01 AM

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is being urged to allow employees of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) power plant in Cebu to hold a strike against low wages.

Labor party Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to "stay" its use of assumption of jurisdiction powers as requested by the management of KEPCO-Salcon Power Corp.

"We call on Secretary Baldoz to give a reprieve to the KEPCO unions so that they can exercise their right to strike against low pay and union busting. We hope Sec. Baldoz will remain true to her word that government intervention in labor disputes is now a thing of the past," PM chair Rene Magtubo said in a statement.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier warned that Mactan City and Negros may experience power outage if the strike pushes through at the 200 megawatt KEPCO power plant.

However, PM claimed that KEPCO is refusing to meet the demands of workers as it expects that the planned strike will be stopped through an assumption of jurisdiction order.

"The rank-and-file and supervisory KEPCO unions have already offered to avert a strike by narrowing its main demand to the reinstatement of union leaders fired because of union activities. But we suspect management is still playing hardball as it expects an AJ order against the unions," said Magtubo.

"We ask KEPCO to moderate its greed. The power industry is the most profitable sector of the economy with the richest Filipinos and foreign investors like Korea's KEPCO engaged in an industry that is structured in such a way that there is no possible way to lose money. Every cent of business expense is passed on to consumers, mainly the middle class and the working poor, thus we have one of the most expensive electricity rates in world,” he added.

Magtubo also said that workers’ wages at KEPCO amounts to just 4 percent of the industry's labor productivity, citing data from the Census of Philippine Business and Industry in 2012 that said the power industry's labor productivity is at P4 million annually per worker.

KEPCO rank-and-file workers receive an average of P13,000 per month or P169,000 per year, Magtubo said.