THE WORKERS’ PASSION IN ADVANCE FASHION

Hundreds of workers from Advance Fashion Inc., a garments exporting factory located at the Sterling Industrial Park in Meycauayan, Bulacan, trooped to the office of Luen Thai Holding Corp. in Times Plaza, United Nations Ave., Manila and staged a `crucifixion’ of the workers to dramatize the illegal lock out perpetrated by the company as part of its union avoidance scheme.

Thereafter, the workers marched to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to further dramatize their plight and to press government to protect workers’ rights.

Since March 8, 600 workers, mostly women, have been prevented by the security guards of the company from entering its premises. Prior to this, the workers have been complaining about their measly P228 daily wage and the penalty of 15 to 30 days suspension for every worker who fails to meet the high production quotas.

It was in response to this dismal condition that the workers formed a union.

Various forms of management harassment against the workers followed after the union filed last March 2 at the DOLE a petition for certification election or PCE, which should allow them to vote for recognition of the union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent.

Workers were harassed to withdraw their support for the union drive and a large number of them were arbitrarily suspended. This prompted the union to file a notice of strike on March 5.

However, according to Efren Galas, Advance Fashion union president, the management thwarted the union’s impending strike by transferring 10,000 cut goods and some machinery to a factory inside an industrial park in Concepcion town in Tarlac province.

This Concepcion firm, the Golden Dragon Apparel, is allegedly owned by Willie Tan, a Hong Kong-based Filipino-American-Chinese and one of the Advance Fashion owners, who also include a British and three
Filipino businessmen in Tarlac.

The Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis or Piglas, a trade union federation under the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), that helped organize the Advance Fashion workers, said that their efforts to form a union is the only reason for the management’s lockout.

Danny Edralin, Chairperson of APL for his part said that
the “Lockout meant to dissuade the workers from forming a union and is a clear violation of the workers’ right to self-organization and collectively bargain for their demands.” As of now, the management is yet to appear in the hearings set by the National Labor Relations Commission.

Advance Fashion is a subsidiary of Philippine Luen Thai Holding Corp., a TNC, and a subcontractor of international brands of clothing like Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Polo, Nautica, Chaps, and Alex Canon.

The workers in Advance Fashion as well as Piglas and APL have vowed to fight these blatant and illegal union-busting actions of management. The group will continue to struggle until the workers would have finally realized its trade union rights.

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