MORE than 600 workers in Clark Freeport have asked the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) to suspend the implementation of the Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) that will affect the status of their employment and the benefits they receive at present.

The CDC employees echoed this sentiment during a press conference and dialogue held at the Bale Balita on Saturday, June 26, 2022.

CDC President Manuel Gaerlan joined the presscon via Zoom while other officials of the state-run firm joined members of the media and some officers of the Clark workers union at the Bale Balita.

The CDC workers expressed dismay at the implementation of CPCS, which they claimed "only demoralized employees,

especially those who have been employed in the corporation for almost 30 years."

In protest of the CPCS Authority to Implement (ATI) issued by the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GCG) to CDC last June 22, members of the Association of Concerned CDC Employees (ACCES) donned black clothing and marched around the CDC corporate offices during their free time to show their opposition on the imposition of the new pay-scale system.

Under the CPCS table issued to CDC, the Clark workers said that only 35 members of the top management from managers to president saw wage increases while more than 635 rank-and-file workers saw a decrease in their income.

Among the allowances, benefits, and incentives to be discontinued are health coverage, retirement plan, cost-of-living allowance (Cola), housing, utilities and transportation allowances, the Meritorious Service Pay (MSP) based on length of service, and the retirement package or separation pay that is also based on the length of service, according to the workers' groups.

They said these benefits were granted on the basis of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) since the inception of the union in 1997.

CDC labor union members said the suspension of their benefits will have a strong blow to their families, given the inflation on basic commodities and oil price hike in the country.

The workers said their predicament was further aggravated by CDC’s looming shift in insurance coverage from the Social Security System (SSS) to Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Prospective membership will supposedly take effect on July 1, 2022, as imposed during a dialogue initiated by the management.

Employees who will choose to activate their membership retroactively would have to pay arrears contributions

to GSIS covering their years of service in CDC, the workers claimed.

In a letter addressed to Gaerlan dated June 20, 2022, ACCES officials said the migration to GSIS is a direct violation of their existing Collective Bargaining Agreement making this tantamount to unfair labor practice.

"Our CBA partakes the nature not simply of a contract between us, but the very law that binds us. Any contrary opinion will not matter. More importantly, our right to CBA is protected by the Labor Code and guaranteed by our Constitution. This is what binds us and NOT anyone's opinion,” ACCES said.

The union members appealed to Gaerlan and the CDC Board of Directors to exhaust all efforts in appealing, postponing, and halting the CPCS implementation as this will greatly affect the financial status of CDC labor force especially the rank-and-file employees.

The workers also urged the CDC president to impose a status quo on the current compensation system and benefits, including the shift to GSIS that requires higher premiums and entails lesser take-home pay.

ACCES president Edsel Manalili expressed hope for a peaceful and equitable resolution of the issues.

"ACCES is the bridge between employees and management. Let us cross that bridge together for the sake of CDC employees who are on their way to serving 30 years in the corporation. But if you build a wall, we will tear it down," he said.

During the press conference, Gaerlan assured that he will support any legal means that will be made by the Clark workers.

The CDC head said the firm's management already asked the GCG and CDC Board to suspend the implementation of the CPCS.