Labor dispute resolved

The labor dispute between a power company and its employees has been resolved.

Governor Hilario P. Davide III thanked the help of President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino for the resolution of the disagreement.

Upon the order of the President, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz stayed in Cebu last May 1 until the wee hours of the following day to get a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Davide said, “She (Baldoz) had to postpone her flight to Manila that afternoon two times. She left Saturday dawn at 4:30 am. She was texting me the whole time. She was giving me updates on their meeting.”

The meeting nearly lasted for 12 hours. The governor also thanked the Kepco SPC Power Company (KSPC) and labor union for coming to an agreement.

“I’m just happy that it ended nga nagkasinabtanay sila (with an understanding by both parties involved),” said Davide in a press conference.

The KSPC supervisory personnel and rank and file employees signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Kepco management.

The MOA signing averted the union’s planned strike, which was originally scheduled on May 1. Even President Aquino, who was here in Cebu during the Labor Day, called on both parties to peaceably settle their differences.

Part of the MOA is to reinvestigate Union Leader Lowell Sanchez, who was dismissed from service by the company for gross misconduct after organizing a labor union using the facility and time of the company.

Lowell contested his dismissal saying he was not investigated for his offense. Thus, he was deprived of due process.

Davide sent Provincial Attorney Orvi Ortega to observe negotiation process between the parties before the National Conciliation Mediation Board last April 23.

The parties failed to settle the issues. On April 29, the employees asked the governor to be part of the investigating committee as part of the terms of reference at their conciliation meeting with the management.

Moreover, the employees wanted the company to give all the pending salaries of Sanchez, including the 13th month pay, and that they wanted to make the reinvestigation as corrective, not punitive.

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

Ortega also added that the Capitol will 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 had until April 30 to settle the dispute. If there’s no resolution obtained in the conciliation, the labor group said the strike will go on as scheduled.

Davide appealed to the employees to postpone their scheduled strike saying its effect may affect not only their employment but also the entire Cebuano constituents and even the entire Visayan region.

Kepco’s 200-megawatt plant in Naga City supplies a huge chunk of power to the Visayas grid.

Luckily though, the strike never materialized as Malacañang officials finally intervened in the conciliation proceedings last May 1.