Kepco workers to go on strike

EMPLOYEES of a coal-fired power plant in the City of Naga, Cebu will stage a strike on Saturday after conciliation efforts with their management ended in vain.

Members of the Kepco Cebu Supervisors’ Association (KCSA) and the Kepco Cebu Employees’ Association (KCEA) made the decision after the management of the Korean Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) refused to yield to their demands for higher wages and reinstatement of KCSA founder Lowell Sanchez.

KCSA and KCEA, which have more than 40 members combined, also decided to hold a picket starting today in front of the Kepco power plant in Barangay Colon, City of Naga.

Employees earlier said that a strike would cripple power supply in Mactan and areas served by the Cebu Electric Cooperative I and II, which include towns and cities outside of Metro Cebu.

Power supply

But Mactan Electric Co. (Meco) head of operations Eddie Plando assured that the distribution company buys electricity from the Cebu Energy Development Corp. and the Wholesale Energy Spot Market, which offers power from other sources.

Kepco generates about 200 megawatts a day.

The National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) conducted conciliation meetings between officials of the two associations and management representatives starting last Monday.

NCMB 7 Director Edmund Mirasol said that KCSA and KCEA trimmed down their demands to one—Sanchez’s reinstatement—but management refused to yield. Negotiations lasted until 10 p.m. last Tuesday.

Mirasol said that management representatives during the negotiations refused to agree to the reinstatement of Sanchez, saying they cannot justify it to Kepco top officials.

Support

Partido ng Manggagawa spokesman Dennis Derige said that at least 10 labor unions in Cebu under the umbrella Sentro ng Manggagawa will participate in the labor protests and strikes against the Kepco management.

Derige said that the unions will also write a letter of complaint to the Asian Development Bank, which extended a loan to Kepco.

Derige said ADB monitors their loan beneficiaries’ adherence to environmental protection and social development. “We plan to raise the labor compliance aspect, specifically with respect to workers’ rights,” he said.

Mirasol said that NCMB will continue its efforts to help improve relations between management and the employees.

He said that NCMB will look into the possibility of asking the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to intervene.

He said that under Rule 9 of Section 5 of Dole Order 9, series of 1997, the labor department can suspend Sanchez’s termination with the agreement of both parties.

Management and the unions will be given 30 days to decide on the outcome.

But Mirasol said that KCSA officers are reluctant to accept the option because they do not know what will happen to Sanchez after 30 days.

Sanchez was dismissed from the service for allegedly organizing a union for the rank-and-file employees when he was part of the management as a supervisor.

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