The tension between the management and union of Holcim Philippines–Bulacan Plant has eased following fruitful conciliation talks facilitated by a team of conciliators from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and the Office of the Secretary, NCMB Executive Director Reynaldo R. Ubaldo yesterday reported to Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.

Ubaldo, in his report, said that Regional Conciliation and Mediation Branch III Director Maria Teresita L. Cancio had facilitated the talks that led to the representatives of both the management and the Holcim Philippines Employees Association, the independent union representing the 162 rank-and-file employees of the company, to reach an agreement to end negotiations for the last two years of their existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The union filed a notice of strike on 21 April 2014, invoking bargaining deadlock on the economic provisions of the CBA. They were specifically locked on the issues of wage increase, medicine allowance, danger exposure allowance, meal allowance, and hospitalization benefits.

The initial conciliation conference on 23 April and the subsequent meetings failed to produce substantial results, prompting the union to conduct a strike balloting on 29 May 2014. It submitted the results of the balloting on 2 June 2014 with an overwhelming majority voting in favour of a strike.

“The parties were stuck on almost all of the issues raised by the union. There was a wide disparity between their proposals,” Ubaldo said.

“The union was ready to declare a strike any time after it submitted the results of the strike balloting, but the leaders yielded to the NCMB’s advice to defer their mass action and agreed to suspend the counting of the strike ban period until 17 June 2014,” Ubaldo, citing further Cancio’s report.

With these developments, the conciliation team made up of RCMB III Director Cancio, Director Jay Jasper Javines of RCMB IV-B, Conciliator-Mediators Hacelfeo Cuares and Maribeth N. Gopez, and Labor Attache Eliseo Cayanong of the Conciliation-Mediation Unit of the Office of the Secretary, worked double time to explore all possible solutions to the impasse and avoid a situation where a strike would occur in no less than the President’s region.

“We were, indeed, running out of time when the conciliation team struck a breakthrough,” Ubaldo said.

The breakthrough came during the conference on 19 June, the 13th conciliation meeting, when the parties entered into a compromise agreement.

“The parties agreed to a P1,400 monthly wage increase for 2014, and to negotiate the wage increase for 2015 in the same year.

The parties also agreed to increase the meal allowance to P3,000 for 2014-2015 from the existing P2,000 per month.

Part of the agreement was the grant of an industrial peace bonus of P30,000 covering both 2014 and 2015, although the parties agreed that this provision of the agreement will not be stipulated in the CBA.

The management also agreed to grant P500,000 as donation to the union on the condition that the DOLE will provide an equal amount to be  sourced from its livelihood program, but this provision will not be stipulated in the parties’ CBA.

Baldoz commended the NCMB, especially the members of the conciliation team, for facilitating a peaceful solution to the impasse and preventing disruptions in the operation of the company.

Holcim Philippines–Bulacan Plant is one of four major plants of Holcim Philippines, the leading cement manufacturer in the Philippines. It is located in Bo. Matictic, Norzagaray, Bulacan. It has 290 employees.

END/Gillian Pearl L. Guerrero, NCMB

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