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‘The struggle of NXP is the struggle of every worker’

Cathy, one of the NXP 24, speaks about her and her co-workers experience about NXP workers continuing fight for workers’ right to holidays, just wages and free unions   “Is this for real?” Cathy uttered in disbelief after receiving a text message around 4 PM of May 5. The message read that she and 23 other executive council officers of the NXP Semiconductors Cabuyao Inc. Workers Union (NXPSCIWU-NAFLU-KMU) have been terminated by the management of NXP Semiconductors Cabuyao Inc. (NXP-Philippines) for not working overtime on three regular holidays of April and on May 1, International Labor Day.
Cathy Oñate of NXP 24

Cathy Oñate of NXP 24

Catherine Onate, 39, internal vice president of NXPSCIWU–NAFLU–KMU, has worked in NXP-Philippines for over 18 years. She works in the testing station of the broadband communications telecommunications department. On the morning of May 5, she received a letter from the management calling for a meeting at 3 PM. “I found it strange because the agenda was not written on the invitation. In the past, the management would always say in their letters what we’d be discussing in a meeting. When asked about it, the personnel who delivered the message just said, ‘just come to the meeting.’ I thought it was nothing [because there was no clear agenda] so I decided to go straight home after my work shift at 2PM. It turned out that they would be telling us then that we’re fired,” she recalled. The union members discretely massed up in the union office that afternoon of May 5. “The place was filled with mixed emotions; some were angry while some were also crying.  But I told them not to feel depressed because we [the officers] are not the union. You [union members] are still inside [working]. The company should fear more for we will definitely not let this one pass,’” Cathy narrated. Plain union busting The dismissal of the 24 union officials of NXPSCIWU-NAFLU-KMU (NXP 24) happened in the midst of a collective bargaining agreement deadlock. The CBA started as early as November 2013 but has not prospered because the company has been invoking a “global policy” of no-wage increment higher than 3.5%. The union for their part is negotiating an 8% which is only enough to cover rising cost of living. NXP-Philippines is formerly Philips Semicondors. It is a Dutch company that produces products used for “high performance mixed signal electronics used in a many end products in many industries such as automotive, identification and mobile telecommunications, wireless infrastructure, lighting, healthcare, industrial, consumer technology and computing.” NXP-Philippines can be found in Light Industry and Science Park (LISP), a special economic zone in Cabuyao, Laguna.

NXP 24 after the benefit dinner organized by Metal Worker Alliance of the Philippines last August 5

The Labor Code states that dismissal of duly-elected union officers during a bargaining deadlock may constitute union busting. The unjust dismissal NXP 24 is a plain act of union busting. Reden Alcantara, union president suspects that the company, even before the CBA negotiation, has been planning to bust their union. “The mass hiring of contractual workers seemed like a preparation for a strike in case the negotiations fail and the workers are forced to go on strike,” Alcantara said. The management reportedly started hiring contractual workers en masse just before the new round of CBA negotiations started in November 2013. Prior to the negotiations, NXP has an estimated workforce of 2,600, a great majority of which comprise the regular rank and file (1,666), while around 300 are regular indirect labor (i.e. supervisors and engineers) and only around 600 are contract workers. Hiring contractual workers were done in batches: first, 900 on November 2013, then was increased to 1,200 then 1,500. This multiplied the total number of contract employees three-fold, from 600 to over 2,000 in a few months. Despite the apparent violations, the Department of Labor of Employment (DoLE) has been playing “neutral” in the process. “The DoLE says that they have no stand on the issue. ‘We are here to mediate,’ that was what they said. But isn’t it their job to implement the law,” Cathy lamented. “Divide and conquer” The company has since employed many tactics to divide NXP to succeed in busting the union. At first, it refused to tackle the issue of NXP24 in negotiations and insisted that the issue of dismissal of NXP24 is a separate issue from that of the CBA. The management reportedly urged the rest of union members of NXP to select a new set of officers and continue with the CBA and leave the issue of NXP 24 to the courts. Individual agreements on wage increase were also offered by the NXP. “And then now, we [NXP 24] are being used by the management as a ‘bargaining chip’ to the CBA negotiations,” Cathy said. She explained that the company raised its offer of 3.5% wage increase to 4.5% in the CBA negotiations so long as the NXP 24 would settle for a just separation pay. Creative forms of struggle The repressive environment of an economic zone did not prevent NXP 24 and their union members to protest unfair practices and continuing harassment by the management. The NXP union, Kilusang Mayo Uno with support from other independent workers organizations and other sectors held successive protest actions, protest caravans, noise barrage and silent protests in the factor to pressure the management and the government to bring back the NXP 24. A social media campaign, Bring Back NXP 24, was also launched and this gained hundreds of support even from international groups. Persistent and successful protests are ever met with more repression. Five of the NXP 24 were charged with “slight physical injury” by some police officers who dispersed the protest action in front of the LISP on May 26. Also, the management installed additional CCTV cameras inside the factory premises and in the canteen, turning the entire workplace into what Cathy describes as a “big brother house.” To quell any form of collective action by workers the company issued a memorandum prohibiting too much noise when the workers held daily noise barrage during their break time. Workers caught joining or initiating the noise barrage were warned of being sanctioned when caught.
Bringback nxp24

#Bring Back NXP 24 is gaining much support in social media.

Cathy said that despite the intensified suppression of their actions, the workers in NXP persist in the fight by developing creative means of protest. “For example in the canteen, there is a monitor that flashes a photo of the birthday celebrant of the day followed by a birthday song. The workers take advantage of this; they yell and make noise after the birthday greeting to skirt the ban on noise barrage,” Cathy narrated. “There was also a time when Rigby Hall, the CEO of NXP, visited the worksite. Of course, the local management wants to insulate Mr. Hall from the protest of workers inside. So there was strict inspection of entering workers to make sure that no streamers or posters were brought inside. But our co-unionists were determined and creative; they used scrap cardboards and wrote calls on them. They fanned themselves using those cardboards while Mr. Hall went around inside the factory,” Cathy added. Pressure on self, families Cathy admitted that the impact of the dismissal is taking toll on each of them and their families. She has three children, 12, 8, and 2 years old respectively. Her husband is also a worker of NXP and getting fired meant a 50% slash on their family income. “We really need to tighten our belts. We decided to cut the television cable and forego of the household helper.” The situation was also an opportunity for her to be “creative” to make ends meet. “Before, I just tell my children to get food from the canteen where I pay twice a month, but now I prepare their lunch and snacks,” Cathy added. Despite this, Cathy cannot help but worry about the education of her children, “Good for us, we were able to save some money for this school-year’s tuition. But next year maybe a problem if I am not able to go back to work….,”she lamented. Circumstances can be much more difficult for some of Cathy’s colleagues especially because some of the NXP 24 were breadwinners of their families. Some already decided worked in construction while others drove a tricycle in order to earn a little while their campaign is still on. There are some whose children in college were forced to stop schooling because of the sudden loss of income. Repression on unionists and union organizing is far more palpable than anyone can imagine. Apart from economic burden caused by their unjust termination, there are reports that all the NXP 24 and their relatives up to 2nd degree of affinity are banned from working in all SEIPI companies. Carrying on Despite the difficulties, Cathy expressed resolve in carrying on with the fight for their reinstatement. She believes that the struggle of NXP 24 is not only the struggle of NXP union but the struggle of every worker. ““We don’t want this to be a precedent wherein workers who refuse to work on holidays are dismissed. Also, we fear that if accept the settlement offered by the management, they will use this against the rest of our union members who also did not work overtime on those holidays on April and May, and before we know it, we no longer have a union in NXP,” Cathy stressed. “The management should not play deaf on our demands, the law of the land must prevail....We challenge the government to stand for what is right and not for what the employers and foreign companies desire. And the workers should carry on and never fear to fight for what is right and just,” Cathy said. ### References: Bring Back NXP 24 blogsite. “Reinstate the 24 laid-off NXP Workers! Resume Negotiations for sa CBA in NXP!” Author unknown. Published on June 6, 2014. Date accessed July 18, 2014 http://bringbacknxp24.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/petition-reinstate-the-24-laid-off-workers-resume-negotiations-for-a-cba-in-nxp/ NXP Philippines website: http://www.nxp.com/