Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz chose the signing of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Philippine Associated Smelter and Refining Corporation (PASAR) and its union, Concerned Organization of PASAR Progressive Employees for Reform (COPPER), on the eve of Labor Day to highlight the positive of impact of DOLE reforms on the changing landscape of labor-management relations.
Speaking at the CBA signing at the Radisson Blu in Cebu City, Baldoz said she noticed there is now a commendable culture of cooperation between labor and management, a new level of maturity that is beginning to show in many unionized establishments in the country.
“What we see now, such as an in the case of PASAR, is more productive dialogue, more collaboration, and more openness that could only lead to harmonious labor-management relations, which in turn will result to enterprise stability, productivity, competitiveness, and growth,” Baldoz said.
PASAR owns and operates the only copper smelter and refinery in the Philippines. Last week, PASAR management and COPPER, the workers’ sole and exclusive bargaining unit, signed their 2015-2017 collective bargaining agreement without third party intervention, a first in the company’s 39-year history.
“PASAR has a long and turbulent history with COPPER. In the past, Collective bargaining negotiations have always been problematic,” said Director Feliciano Orihuela Jr. of the National Conciliation Mediation Board.
The last CBA negotiations in PASAR were concluded in 2012 after the management and the union filed with the DOLE West Leyte Field Office a request for assistance under the DOLE’s Single Entry Approach, or SEnA mechanism, a reform initiated by Secretary Baldoz that provides a 30-day mediation-conciliation of any dispute that prevents it from ripening into a formal labor case. The SEnA is now a law.
Baldoz said it is not a surprise that both parties were able to conclude their latest CBA without any help from the DOLE.
“Labor-management cooperation (LMC) is working—and produced this result—in PASAR. It is working and producing results in many other companies,” said Baldoz, as she commended both parties for displaying a new level of maturity and responsibility that enabled them to bridge their differences without resorting to third party intervention.
At the CBA signing attended by PASAR President and Chief Executive Officer Adam Purkis, Arthur Estrera, COPPER Union President, and other PASAR executives, union, and DOLE officials, Baldoz said the successful conclusion of the CBA between the two parties should strengthen some more the mutual trust, respect, and cooperation between the management and the workers.
“We have now sound and sustainable industrial relations atmosphere which is very encouraging and conducive for foreign investments,” Baldoz said, after noting that PASAR is now in the midst of an expansion in its plant in Isabel, Leyte.
“In fact, with the fast conclusion of your CBA without our intervention, I don’t mind that you render us irrelevant,” Baldoz quipped.
Purkis, on his part, expressed appreciation to Secretary Baldoz for taking time off to witness the CBA signing.
“Thank you Secretary Baldoz. We appreciate your coming. This occasion is not just a CBA signing. It’s a contract of commitment that as partners, the management and union will keep communicating, keep talking, in a very honest, very open manner,” Purkis said.
Union president Estrera likewise expressed his thanks to the management and the DOLE, saying union members will enjoy more socio-economic benefits because of the union’s cordial and open partnership with PASAR management.
Also with Baldoz witnessing the signing of the CBA were Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III, Assistant Secretary Katherine Brimon, Regional Office No. 8 Director Elias Cayanong, and Regional Office No.7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga who, before Dir. Cayanong, was the DOLE regional director in Eastern Visayas.