The country remained strikes and lockouts free as labor disputes in 38 firms were prevented with the settlement of the notices of strikes and lockouts which these firms filed with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB in January 2005 including those pending at the beginning of the month.

In a report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, Undersecretary for labor relations Manuel G. Imson of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said there was no strike and or lockout declared in January this year.

Citing and NCMB report, Imson said that firms which filed notices of strike/lockout with the Board during the first month this year totaled 32 or 11 percent lower than the 36 cases registered during the same period in 2004. Likewise, the number of workers covered by the notices was lower at 4,310 compared to 5,966 last year.

The NCMB, however, settled 38 strikes and lockout notices including those pending at the beginning of the month, Imson said noting that the settlement prevented the escalation of the labor disputes that could lead into strikes and lockouts in the involved firms.

The DOLE undersecretary also said that some 722 workers benefited from a total of P7 million in monetary benefits as a result of the settlement of strike notices during the period covered. A total of 294 workers was also granted a total of P19 million in separation pay.

Imson also remarked that it took an average of 49 days to settle a strike/lockout notice this year against 47 days recorded a year ago, adding that 66 notices at the end of the period are still subjects of on going conciliation.

The undersecretary also said that 50 preventive mediation cases were filed for the month of January or five cases lower that the 55 cases reported last year. Likewise, the number of workers covered by the preventive mediation cases filed was lower this year at 5,944 compared to 10,400 workers last year.

According to him, some 41 preventive mediation cases were settled this year resulting in the facilitation of P1.5 million in CBA packages which benefited 356 workers. Also, 360 workers received a total of P20 million in separation pay benefits..

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