Union decries illegal shutdown and union busting

NOVALICHES — Some 200 workers at Mustad Terminal Tackle Inc. (MTTI) were left jobless in May 24, Tuesday when a sudden announcement at around 10am was made by company officials saying that the factory is ceasing its operations on that very day.

MMTI is a Norwegian-owned multinational company that produces fishing hooks, rigs, flies among other metal fishing equipment. Management cited “serious financial loses” as reason for the company’s shutdown.

Mustad Terminal Tackle Workers and Employee’s Association (MTTWEA-ADLO-KMU) president Ma. Elena Alejandro said that the company is clearly violating the workers’ right to security of tenure. She also questioned the legitimacy of the sudden closure of the company. According to her, the company officials did not show any proof of the company’s “serious financial losses.” Instead, the company told the workers to check with the Security and Exchange Commission the company’s financial report to verify its financial standing.

No prior notice

In a meeting that came after the announcement, the management reportedly told the unions namely MMTWEA-ADLO-KMU, the supervisor’s union (MUSE) and monthly-paid rank and file union (MUSA), that aside from the separation pay worth 26 days per year of service, it will be paying the an additional 30 days of work from May 24-June 24 since it failed to notify the workers of the shutdown. In the labor code, companies are obliged to give a 30-day notice before shutting down its operations.

Alejandro however said that paying the 30-day notice instead of actually practicing it is a trick of the management to prevent the workers from making an appeal and verifying the company’s claims of bankruptcy. The 30-day notice she explained was meant not just to give consideration to the workers who will lose their jobs, more important is a prior notice that will allow the workers to check the legality of the company’s closure.

Reportedly, the company has not submitted any notice of closure to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which is also a must in the labor code.

Union busting

Alejandro suspects union busting as a motive behind the abrupt closure of the company. According to her, there are no signs that the company is losing since the workers did not experience any decrease in their production output. There were also no cost-cutting measures done by the management to augment the alleged losses.

Armand Hernando, CTUHR documentation coordinator affirmed Alejandro’s fear and said that shutting down factories with unionized workforce is common tactic used by capitalists in order to save costs. “In our experience, most companies that claim to have gone bankrupt actually just cease operations for a while and reopen with a new set of employees that are contractual and non-unionized. This definitely brings greater profits and less costs for the company.”

Members of the MTTWEA-ADLO-KMU are protesting the closure of MTTI and decided to reject the company’s offer of separation pay. They filed a case of illegal closure against MTTI at the DOLE.#