Friday, October 6, 2006

Response to the Sunstar Pampanga Editorial

this is a letter that I have sent to the local daily PAMPANGA STAR

Aside from politicians and lawyers, journalists are one of themost corruptible persons in the entire galaxy. Religiously they practice the padrone system of giving favours in return for favours that begets favours giving favours. For a time connections are made through this system but in the end they succumb to a trap of their own doing that their dignity and honour becomes questionable. And so they write or go to the press not only to meet deadlines, but also to please those who in some way or another scratched their backs and so return the favour. Sides, they do take them, quickly switch to those who toast much higher, or fill wanting voids the fastest. And so they write, exhaustively running around in a circle of words to please and exalt.

The power is there. To compound an issue, to conceal the truth, to confuse the audience. It is just proper that we should know exactly what they exactly want us to know. But should we take them for truth? It is up to the reader to excoriate the layers of fog, to exhume the dying truth, to exfoliate the canopy of doubt. One has to be critical of the information that comes from the presses.

To tell the tale of the house without asking the other side of the fence’s version is one great injustice not only of the truth but to oneself. A journalist that meets that deadline while sacrificing a correspondence to both side is no more than a fictional writer or that scientist who removes the frog limbs one at a time and asking it to jump each time and when all the limbs are gone and the frog could not jump anymore concludes that removing the limbs make the frog deaf. This is a man who sees a sign that says “Private Property…” and under is indiscernible writings and concludes that the next phrase is “No Overtaking”. Very long narrative, right observation but in the end a conclusion that is weird and absurd and defies logic.

So was the death of the investigative journalist. They have died a long time ago and all we have now are people whose sense of purpose is to write in a hurry, meet that deadline and never leave the sanctuary of the office. Behind the desk they make their opinion without second guessing themselves. Without going to the field, interviewing this side and that side, and so what they write is a view from the far side.

“Excess of Acces” - Editorial : Dec. 30, 2003

“Acces demand is political blacking” – Jan. 1, 2004

Indulge, I write for the above. Points to ponder in noparticular order.Please avail yourself of a copy of the CBA of CDC, the Philippine Labor Code, NEDA, NSO and Ibon Foundation publications, in that order. Thus armed, we go further and explore.

A CBA is a written agreement between management and the employees. It is a sort of pact or a Magna Carta, if you may, that both parties should honour, respect, promulgate and follow judiciously. What is agreed upon is always over and above what is required of the Philippine Labor Code. This means that what the Labor Code implements is only the bare essentials and to give less than what the code provides is a violation of the law. Now, it is a given that it is always the labor force who wins on this matter. There may be a so-so win, a partial win or a windfall, but in a broader view, as time flies, what was won becomes passé. So there is a need for another negotiation, a new CBA.

During negotiation, both sides lay all their aces and settle on what could be given immediately and what could not. When one agenda is disputed, they could always backtrack a little, remove or reduce what was previously agreed to accommodate the disputed item and bargain and then agree, collectively, everybody happy. There’s those word –bargain, agree, collectively. Putting word finesse – collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

So what happens if one party is not willing to put an item in the agenda which the other party deems crucial, like for example, salary adjustment? It is thus written in the Labor Code and the Constitution that, for the management – it could file a lockout, and for the union – it could file for a strike.

It is a right. And it is the last resort of some sort if both parties could not agree on the particular matter with the arbitration of DOLE or NCMB. The columnists perhaps are not privy of these rights, they should have known this.

So there you go, a strike is a guaranteed right of the employees, just as it is the right of the employer to lockout its doors. It is rather a bitter but mundane right but the law is the law and we should follow it. And ACCES followed the law, it filed for a strike.

It should be pointed out that the first CBA in 2000 there is no monetary benefit in the works, it is only those that were already enjoyed by the whole corporation that were stipulated in the pact. In March 2003, ACCES submitted to management its intention to pursue the economic review of the CBA as required by the first CBA. For 9 months the negotiation dragged on. On

December 2003, ACCES filed for a strike because of the foot dragging and the management reckoning that salary adjustment is not negotiable. It is the CDC management’s contention that the Table of Organization or what the columnist calls the Promotion Process is the salary adjustment itself.

Yes, “a large portion of the CDC workforce were given salary adjustments” as the columnist puts it. But a large portion is not the whole portion, it is not the entire workforce. ACCES stand is this, every single member of the corporation should be given salary adjustment. Not only for its members but the whole organization. From the bushcutters to the CEO/President. The whole enchilada.

The T.O. is a management’s prerogative, the employees welcomed it and ACCES was all too eager that it will be promulgated it since this will mean that those who really have what it takes will be given a chance to prove their worth in this corporation.

This T.O. was actually a study commissioned by the CDC Board of Directors way back in 2002 for streamlining the corporate organizational structure and put distinction of what a particular department’s role, avoid or perhaps minimize the overlapping of functions as could be discerned from the three-volume paper submitted by the consultant.

On the first week of January 2003, actually, the first flag raising ceremony of the year, new managers and assistant managers were affirmed. Three of these assistant managers were ACCES leaders, some are outsiders. These three were caught by surprise by this declaration. Two days later, the ACCES officers convened and put this matter into discussion. The conclusion was, it is a violation of the CBA. As could be discerned, and I should not elaborate, this is a subtle way to subvert the ACCES leadership. And in accordance with our job hiring and promotion clause of the CBA, all vacancies should be first declared with preference to the existing labor force.

Much like an employment ad, all job vacancies should be first put into publication on our billboards and let the employees compete. The three ACCES leader waived these posts. It is only after another few months that they have accepted their new roles not because they were tempted but because of the insistence of the remaining leaders that they should assume them. “Who are we to hinder your career path?” They contend. And everyone knows, these people are good and dedicated in putting the CSEZ on the global economic map, perhaps they should even be managers.

There you go. Your portrayal that these leaders were a bunch of hooligans who demands to be promoted doesn’t hold water. We know them, they are good people, but you put them in bad light. Shameful act on your part. You could, at the least, get some of your information from their own mouth.

On the month of February 2003, a series of protest actions was made by ACCES, all within the bounds of the law, but never did they go to the press for coverage. As much as possible, ACCES confines its reactions within the corporation. And when no correctives are done within our offices confines, they went to Malacanang. So they did. Never the presses.

On February 28, 2003, a dialog was held by the ACCES leaders and Chairman Navarro to correct the fiasco of the T.O. There the problem was laid out plain. There was no declaration nor a process for the promotion. No publications on the conspicuous billboards nor insinuation from the management. “Perhaps”, one sarcastically quipped, “they were posted on the inside of the toilet bowl cover”. Chairman Navarro asked for two weeks to correct the problem, ACCES waited, no dialog came up.

Perhaps ACCES has been very naïve in exercising its constitutional rights or complacent in asserting its role as the voice and protector of the ranks rights. They never filed a Notice of Strike during that time, where in fact, that T.O. fiasco was a clear violation of our CBA, our pact, our Magna Carta. The ACCES officers knew too well how precarious the situation will become for the corporation and its effect on the CSEZ if they ever filed a notice of strike.

They’re not that dumb.

That’s’ it for now. There will be a second part, if I have the time luxury of time.

written on Jan. 2003 under the full force of the influence, so forgot the date

No comments: