The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today reported that milling operations at the Central Azucarera de Bais in Dumaguete is back to normal its workers decided not to strike.

In a report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, Undersecretary for labor relations Manuel G. Imson said about 400 workers of the Central went back to work last Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2005 even as the local union president failed to report for work. The company also started to receive deliveries from sugar cane planters, Imson added.

According to him, the labor dispute at the Central Azucarera de Bais involved deadlock in collective bargaining and other labor issues including a petition for decertification filed by the local union against the National Federation of Labor (NFL) with the DOLE Regional Office No. 7 in Cebu.

He said a hearing was held on February 1, 2005 at the regional office but the NFL did not appear and instead filed a motion to dismiss.

The local union also filed with the Regional Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in Central Visayas a petition for illegal lockout on the alleged non-opening of the sugar mill by management. The case is still pending, Imson said.

Meantime, the Regional Branch of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) in the region noted the inquiry of two groups of workers during separate meetings on February 2, with NFL local union president Pablito Saguran and on February 5, 2005 with another group supporting the local union officers. Both groups were asking the status of their request for the Secretary of Labor to assume jurisdiction over the case.

Imson noted that majority of the Central Azucarera de Bais workers have pledged not to join any strike, adding that company president Mr. A. Steven Chan acknowledged the sincere desire of the workers and expressed his gratitude to the DOLE for its professional intervention.

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