Capitol looks on labor dispute, wants to avert strike

The Cebu Provincial Government is following closely the conciliation between the Kepco KSPC Power Plant and its employees.

Governor Hilario P. Davide III appealed to the unionized Kepco employees to suspend their intended strike on May 1 while the negotiation continues.

The governor is hoping to avert the strike and to have a peaceful resolution to the labor dispute, saying the strike would adversely affect not only their negotiation but also their jobs, the company and the Cebuano public.

Within Cebu Province, Kepco supplies power to Cebu Electric Cooperative I and II. Moreover, the 200-megawatt power plant in Naga City supplies one-fourth of to the total power load in the Cebu-Negros-Panay Grid. It has clients in Bohol, Leyte, Negros and Panay.

He said, “The higher public interest ang kasiguroan nga dili ma prejudice ang power service.”

Some members of the Kepco Cebu Employees Association-Workers Solidarity Network (KCEA-WSN) were in the Capitol last April 29 to present their counter proposal to the governor.

Supervisory union President Lowell Sanchez, who was terminated from service due to grave misconduct, was also present during the meeting.

Sanchez, along with Assistant Manager Nelson Florita, was dismissed for allegedly using the company facilities and time in organizing labor union.

Active Observer

Last April 23, Gov. Davide said they received a notice from National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) on the labor dispute between Kepco and its employees.

He said he sent Provincial Attorney Orvi Ortega to represent the province in the negotiation.

Through Ortega, the Capitol proposed to reinstate the terminated employees. This is subject to the condition that they would be dismissed from service should they violate company policies again.

Based on the account of Atty. Ortega, on April 30 Kepco offered a counter proposal that they will reinvestigate the dismissal cases.

This was because of Sanchez’s contention that the company denied them due process. Sanchez and Florita were meted out with prevented suspension for 30 days last March 5.

A scheduled administrative hearing did not push through on March 23. Sanchez said they were denied to appear with two legal counsels instead of one as preferred by the company.

In their meeting with the governor, WSN submitted three terms of preference to be observed in the further negotiations.

The labor union wanted the Capitol to sit in the investigating committee, for the company to give all the pending salaries of Sanchez, including the 13th month pay, and to make the reinvestigation as corrective not punitive.

Davide told the employees that they couldn’t take part in the investigating committee since it is an internal matter.

Atty. Ortega also added that the Capitol would be an “active observer” in the conciliation proceeding. He explained, “This for us to know who is and who is not following the law. Then we will be able to know where to take side.”

The notice of strike was filed on April 15. Both parties have until April 30 to settle the dispute. If there’s resolution obtained in the conciliation, the labor group said the strike would go on as scheduled.