Mandays lost or the number of days made idle due to strikes and work stoppages has decreased as the efforts to settle strikes and lockout notices before these could erupt into strikes gained headway in 2004, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.

Citing data from the DOLE’s National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), Undersecretary for labor relations Manuel G. Imson reported to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas that mandays lost decreased by 64 percent from 150,465 in 2003 to only 53,434 in 2004 as the strike and lockout notices filed with the agency were prevented from materializing into actual strikes/lockouts.

Records showed that only four percent of the 629 total notices of strikes and lockouts handled by NCMB in 2004 including those pending at the beginning of the year materialized into strikes. This translates into 96 percent strike prevention rate in 2004, up by two percent from 94 percent in the previous year, Imson said.

According to the undersecretary, conciliation and mediation efforts were promptly conducted by the NCMB to bring the disputing labor and management to the settlement of their differences before these could erupt into strikes and or lockouts.

He stressed that involved parties had demonstrated maturity and willingness to come together and agree among themselves to settle their dispute contributed quite substantially in preventing strikes and reducing the number of mandays lost due to strikes in 2004.

This in turn, underscored the efforts to maintain industrial peace which is needed in sustaining productivity and subsequently business expansion and the generation of more jobs for the workers, Imson remarked noting that both labor and management actually benefit by being reasonable in resolving their disputes.

Data also showed that it took NCMB an average of 39 days to settle notices of strikes/lockouts cases in 2004. This is three days faster than last year’s 42 days. Imson said this can be attributed to the team approach the NCMB is engaged into in resolving labor disputes. This step involves not only conciliator-mediators in the settlement of disputes but also the agency heads at the regional and national levels.

He added the NCMB would continue to pursue greater industrial harmony and, thus, contain labor disputes, by promoting labor and management cooperation through the setting up of labor and management councils (LMCs). He said the agency aims to facilitate the setting and operation of 101 LMCs in organized establishments.

Presently, existing LMCs total 915. These councils provide labor and management the venue to address work problems and engage in collaborative undertakings that promote mutual understanding, safety, quality, and productivity in their workplaces.

The LMCs include the Industrial Peace Council (IPC) at the Mabuhay Vinyl Corporation (MVC), a chemical manufacturer in Iligan City. Composed of MVC labor and management representatives, the IPC serves as channel through which the parties communicate and facilitate the resolution of common issues and conflicts, thereby, preventing disruptions and ensuring plant level harmony and workers productivity.

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