Protesting telco employees dispersed by PLDT guards

DAVAO CITY — About 100 security personnel of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company in Makati City reportedly dispersed the 30 protesting members of the Digitel Employees Union (DEU) who were conducting a hunger strike in front of the PLDT main office for more than a week now.

This was according to Fritz Alzuelo, DEU vice president, adding the dispersal was mounted around three in the morning last Sunday.

“Around 100 PLDT guards headed by Mr. Morato started pushing around 30 DEU members. The hunger strike area was destroyed by PLDT security guards,” Alzuelo said.

He said they have relocated their picket line beside the PLDT main office along the sidewalk and will remain there for as long as the Telco giant continue to defy the Supreme Court order reinstating them and start a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Some of the protesting DEU members came from Davao City.

The High Court, in its October 10, 2012 decision with finality, ordered Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (Digitel) to implement the order of the Department of Labor and Employment directing Digitel to commence collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations and at the same time declared the dismissal of 13 Digitel employees as illegal.

By the time the SC final decision came out, PLDT already owns Digitel. PLDT’s Manuel V. Pangilinan bought Digitel last year with a promise that the merger would not cause lay-offs.

DEU president Allan Licardo said their hunger strike which is on its second week now is their way of  pressuring the PLDT officials to implement the SC order.

Licardo said PLDT bought  Digitel via shareholding swap then closed it, integrated its operation into PLDT’s, got rid of the regular employees who are union members to replace them with contractual workers.

He said hunger Strike is our last recourse if DOLE and Court will not push the decision to fruition, especially with telecom giant Digitel/PLDT bent on choking the union to its death and mangling the law to unrecognizability.

“Our experience reveals that we have nowhere to go under the system, as concerned authorities merely wait and see until their decisions favorable to workers such as the SC decision last January 21,2013 are reduced to mere scraps of paper,” Licardo said.

Alzuelo said there are about 87 remaining members of their union that opted to fight it out with the telecom giant to enforce their worker’s right for a CBA. It was learned that more than 300 of their members opted to accept PLDTfs offer of early retirement plan for the Digitel employees.

In the said plan, Digitel regular employees are made to retire early with a ggenerous payh but then offered to work back to the company this time as contractuals. DEU members termed this offer by PLDT as redundancy scheme.

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