Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas today reported that a total of P1.4 billion worth of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) economic packages benefited some 21,064 workers nationwide as a result of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE’s) efforts to resolve labor-management disputes before these could erupt into full-blown strikes last year. At the same time, the DOLE also facilitated P244 million in similar CBA economic benefits to some 4,825 workers through preventive mediation (PM).

This developed as the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) confirmed to Sto. Tomas that the year 2004 was the country’s lowest strike year on record in 17 years. According to NCMB, only 25 strikes were declared during the year. The figure is 34 percent less than the total 38 strikes declared in 2003.

Labor Undersecretary for Labor Relations Manuel G. Imson said the majority of the 25 work stoppages in 2004 happened in the National Capital Region (NCR) with nine work stoppages, followed by Region 3 (seven), Region 4 (five), Region 7 (two), and Region 9 and 11 (one each).

However, Imson stressed that as a result of the DOLE’s unceasing efforts to guard and preserve the gains in industrial peace, nine other regions of the country remained strike free, namely, CAR, and Regions 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, and Caraga.

As of the year’s end, 24 of the 25 strikes were successfully disposed of for a total disposition rate of 96 percent. On the average, the 24 strikes were swiftly disposed in only eleven days, half the 21-day average in 2003. As of December 21, 2004, only the strike at United Dockhandlers, Inc. in Metro Manila remains the subject of conciliation, Imson said.

According to the Undersecretary, unceasing conciliation and mediation efforts, assumption of jurisdiction, and voluntary arbitration, complemented by mature and responsible unionism and management conscious of the best interests of industrial democracy, prevented most of the total 558 strike notices filed in 2004 from materializing into strikes. NCMB records show that 439 notices of strike were resolved benefiting 21,064 workers who received a total P1.4 billion in CBA packages. Another 2,538 workers benefited from the total P27 million separation pay facilitated during the year.

At the same time, the settlement of 593 preventive mediation cases during this year also resulted in the facilitation of P244 million in CBA benefits to 4,825 workers and an additional P33 million in separation pay benefiting another 5,245 workers.

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