By Ben Serrano
Claiming they were illegally ousted, truckloads of ousted mining workers from different mining companies in Caraga will leave for Manila Friday via land trip and will hold series of mass protest rallies at the Dept. of Labor and Employment, Dept. of Evironment and Natural Resources and the Chamber of Mines central and national offices.
The initial delegation of workers held a press conference around noon today (Thursday) in Butuan City before their departure for Manila tomorrow they called “Manilakbayan.”
Ronald L Langit, Sr., president of Marc Ventures Mining Development Corp. Labor Union affiliated with National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu)-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) told newsmen that in matter of only six months , some 1,439 regular workers and 78 officials of labor unions from three mining firms in the region were terminated due alleged union-busting, illegal dismissal and other illegal methods.
“We have tried for months, exhausted diplomacy and talks, dialogues to settle labor issues through legal means through series of complaints we lodged before DOLE regional office in Caraga Region located here in Butuan City. But all our efforts bore no result,” said Bernie Larase, president of labor union of mining firm Greenstone Resources Corp. based in Surigao del Norte during the news conference.
“And so we have decided after exhausting all diplomatic, peaceful means to air our grievances at various government agencies here in the region and no action to bring these matters right there at the doorstep of power there in Manila hoping President Duterte, DENR and mining officials will listen to us,” said Marvin Medina, Vice President of accredited labor union of Clarence T. Pimentel Construction Mining Corporation United Workers Union also affiliated with NAFLU-KMU.
The workers vowed they will never return home until justice be served on them on their reported illegal ouster from their jobs.
They said they will deliver right at the doorstep of Malacañang Palace their letter of appeal for help to President Duterte hoping they can elicit support, help them in their plight and reinstated in their jobs.
They also lamented rampant violations of labor laws due alleged continuing rampant contractualization of mining firms operating in the region.
They claimed some of the ousted workers who have been serving for many years already were still under contractualization.
Complaining, Manila-bound Caraga workers added that based on the data provided by them by big labor unions like KMU and NAFLU by which they are affiliated that from total 27,764 minimum wage workers working in 35 business establishments, firms in Caraga on, 30% of them are working in the mining industry.
And 22,606 workers from total 27,764 minimum wage earners in 35 business establishments, firms in the region are until now allegedly remained contractuals.
Records from DOLE-Caraga showed there total 1.2-M workers in the region, 52% are working in the agriculture sector, service-oriented sector 39%, other industries 9% from the total 9,823 registered establishments .
Caraga is where majority of mining firms in the country are operating and some oil palm and banana plantations are also located
Manilakbayan participants also claimed they will joined thousands of protesters already preparing for big mass protest rally on President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address on July 23.