Workers union in Cenapro Chemical Corporation, a company in Mandaue City, Cebu that produces and sells activated carbon, is seeking support from the public for their campaign to end continuous harassment by the management on their union and to stop forced overtime that has been causing over-fatigue and illness among workers.

Based on a petition letter recently circulated by Visayan Human Development Agency (VIHDA), Cenapro Chemicals Employees Association (CCEA)-ANGLO-KMU filed a notice of strike before the NCMB (National Conciliation and Mediation Board) on August 1, 2014 after the company unilaterally halted CBA negotiations and employed harassment and union busting tactics against the union.

Early this year, CCEA-ANGLO-KMU and the management entered into a new round of collective bargaining negotiations. But this was suspended unilaterally by the company after the union and other workers held a protest action on July 16 to oppose the 16-hour work and forced overtime.

Harassment on union officials and union members followed. Cenapro union president, Arle Tigley, was threatened with dismissal for not going to work when he attended a hearing for another labor complaint filed before the Labor Department. Tigley reportedly filed a leave of absence for the scheduled hearing but this was not approved by the management so he decided to take a leave without pay instead. The following day, he was charged with “insubordination” which according to company rules can lead to termination on first offense.

Another union officer was suspended for 5 days after he was unable to work overtime due to over-fatigue. The company also summoned 24 other union members to explain their involvement in the July 16 protest.

To date, conciliation meetings between the management and the CCEA-ANGLO-KMU are still on-going without much progress.

Several accounts of harassment and deceit have been done in the past by the company against the union and workers. In 2011, the management of Cenapro Chemicals Corporation reportedly deceived the union by altering the provisions of the CBA on the day of CBA signing while 17 union members were unjustly dismissed in 2012 after they conducted a protest action against management’s refusal to shoulder expenses for the hospitalization of a union member who died of cancer. The later dispute was resolved and the 17 CCEA members were brought back to work in 2012.

Meanwhile, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights expressed support for CCEA’s campaign and underscored that forced overtime and 16 hours of straight work is utterly inhumane. “The harassment on CCEA, even the threat to terminate their union leader because they refuse to be treated like slaves is a desperate move of the company to squeeze more profit from the workers. It attacks not only the union itself but the hard-won right of workers to 8-hour work and humane treatment,” Arman Hernando CTUHR documentation coordinator said.###