Members of QCPD in front of Pentagon Steel Company entrance

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights condemns the collusion of the Quezon City police and the Pentagon Steel Corporation management to put down the picket of over a hundred workers in Brgy. Apolonio Samson, Kaingin Road, Quezon City.

“The extent of support given by the local police to the company is alarming especially because fundamental human rights of the workers have been gravely violated,” Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for Documentation said.

Last May 18, CTUHR dispatched a quick response team (QRT) to the site of the picketing workers where Hernando reportedly witnessed how the policemen from Police Community Precinct 1 of the Quezon City Police District (PCP1-QCPD) willingly provided security services to the steel company. “The company just sent a request letter to the police asking them to implement an injunction order. It is amazing how fast the police responded to their request,” Hernando added.

Around 40 policemen from PCP1-QCPD headed by Major de Vera were deployed 8 AM of May 18 to sever the workers protest of following a preliminary injunction order issued by the National Labor Relations Commission.

“It’s not difficult to conclude that the police was siding with the company. The police officers stood in front of the factory as though they were the company’s private security, and their vehicles were parked inside the compound,” Hernando narrated.

CTUHR also reported 17 men in civilian clothes spread around the workers’ picket line. Later it was discovered that these men were police intelligence officers.

Three workers suffered minor head injuries after being hit by truncheons. After the dispersal, at around 10 AM, the police also reportedly escorted some 50 individuals including 20 scabs to get inside the factory.

Sec. 10 Rule XIII Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code clearly provides that “no public official, employee, including officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Integrated National Police, or any armed person shall bring in, introduce or escort, in any manner, any individuals who seeks to replace strikers in entering or leaving the premises of strike”

“There is a clear collusion of the two entities to further violate the rights of the workers here. Pentagon management after its illegal lockout seeks to continue its operation by replacing the 130 dismissed workers. The police, instead of staying neutral at best, unquestioningly provided the necessary act to fulfill the company’s intention. Worse than being illegal, their acts are inhumane. These acts strip-off the only thing left of the workers—dignity,” Hernando pointed out.

Meanwhile, on May 14 at 8 AM, Bimbo Laurenciano fell off a 40-feet asbestos roof inside the Pentagon plant after attempting to sneak inside Pentagon’s premises to work. Laurenciano was immediately brought to Quezon City General Hospital but died in the afternoon of the same date due to severe head injury.

“We feel sorry for the death of Laurenciano. In Pentagon’s attempt to continue earning profit amid the labor dispute cost another worker’s life,” Hernando added.

Hernando said that the accident could have been avoided if Pentagon has stopped its illegal lock-out of workers. “The workers are in fact asking much, they just want the management to respect their union, and implement the collective bargaining agreement by providing workers with safety gadgets. They are not even asking for a hike. But instead of heeding their just and modest demands, union leaders were suspended and later, all of the union members were also illegally dismissed,” Hernando said.

“We call on the NLRC and the Pentagon management to resolve dispute immediately and bring the workers back to work,” Hernando said.