Some 813 workers received a total of P67 million in collective bargaining agreement (CBA) benefits during the first four months of 2006 with the continuing the efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to resolve the workers’ disputes with their employers.

Another 977 workers got a total of P29 million in separation pay, according to a report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas by the DOLE’s National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).

The NCMB report noted that CBA benefits granted to the workers resulted from the settlement of notices of strikes and lockouts before these notices could materialize into full-blown strikes and lockouts.

Undersecretary for labor relations Manuel G. Imson said that the NCMB prevented 108 notices from materializing into actual strikes and lockouts through conciliation and mediation, achieving a high 97% strike/lockout prevention rate from January to April this year.

Imson said that the NCMB has been exhausting all means to prevent strikes and lockouts, adding that the agency has shortened the period during which a strike or lockout notice is settled.

He said that it took the NCMB 36 days to settle a strike/lockout notice during the first four months of 2006 which is four days faster than the 40 days recorded in the same period last year.

The settlement of strikes and lockouts and notices of strikes/lockouts is a major component of the conciliation and mediation program of NCMB.

Mediation provides for an intervention by a neutral third party, the conciliator-mediator, in which parties are offered solutions or alternatives to the problems with the end in view of assisting them towards voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the dispute.

A conciliator-mediator also intervenes in tense situation and takes an active role in conciliating between parties by trying to keep disputants talking and carrying messages back and forth. This helps keep things calm and forward-looking.

The total number of strikes/lockouts notices from January to April 2006 reached 121 registering a 26% drop from the 163 cases filed with NCMB last year. Workers involved in these cases totaled 29,766, which is four percent higher than the 28,741 workers involved a year ago.

Alleged unfair labor practice was raised in 93 cases while 20 cases raised deadlock in bargaining negotiations. Another eight cases raised both ULP and bargaining deadlock.

Source: Information and Publication Service

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