Picketing workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation face harassment from police forces and management anew as the latter tried to take out equipment from the factory site in Kaingin Road, Balintawak Quezon City on February 11.
Six patrol vehicles with around 40 uniformed and non-uniformed policemen were deployed in the site at 8 AM to ensure that representatives of Pentagon management and the creditor bank, Banco de Oro (BD)), can enter the factory and conduct an inventory of machines owned by the steel company.
The steel company has payables worth P91 million to BDO based on an order released by Makati RTC Branch 133.
Picketing workers were surrounded by the officers of the Police Community Precinct 1 (PCP 1) of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD). Upon orders by Maj. De Vera, the police commander, uniformed policemen armed with truncheons and shield took their position around the gate of the factory. Another group of non-uniformed men armed with short firearms were also scattered around the picket line.
Workers were thus forced to stay on the sidelines and were unable to stop the piggyslots.com company and creditor from taking an inventory of the company properties which the workers have also been claiming as payment for their illegal dismissal.
On April last year, 129 workers of the said company filed a complaint of illegal dismissal at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) after company Personnel Manager Pablito Alcover and company owner Mariano Chan effected a mass dismissal following persistent workers’ demand for safe working conditions in their collective bargaining agreement.
In defiance to the company’s illegal lock-out, the 129 workers put up a picket protest which the company in collusion with local police and with the use of private goons tried to disperse through relentless harassment. More than 20 workers have been imprisoned and charged with different crimes and complaints. A security guard was also killed and three others were severely wounded when a truck on its way out of the factory premises attempted to run over the picketing workers on July 13 last year.
Meanwhile, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) underlined that it is a right of the worker to be paid first of their just claims before the employer may be allowed to dispose his properties in favor of the creditors. “The government should protect the interest of the workers in this situation because those properties are the only assurance that their due claim may be given. This is what the workers have been invoking to the police and the employer during the inventory but they never listened,” CTUHR documentation head, Arman Hernando said.
“The case of Pentagon exposes the kind of industrial peace the Aquino government is trying to achieve. Workers wait all their lives only to get a decision from the labor courts. Worse, workers are kept mum and violently dealt with when they start to fight for what is due them,” Hernando added.###