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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Industrial relations climate most peaceful in 2009

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has reported that the country's
strike incidence rate dipped to a new all-time low of only four (4) strikes
in 2009.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the DOLE, through the
National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), managed to further bring
down the incidence of work stoppages amidst the debilitating effects of the
Global Financial Crisis (GFC) resulting in a series of job displacements and
the devastation brought about by the recent typhoons.

"The four work stoppages are one case fewer than those declared in 2008 and
comprise only 1.23% of the 326 notices of strike/lockout handled during the
year," he said.

He further said that two of the four work stoppages occurred in Cebu City
(Region 7), while the other two were declared in Regions IV-A and XIII.

"Most worthy to note here is the fact that none of the four work stoppages
occurred in the National Capital Region, the traditional seat of labor
unrest in the country," the Labor Chief further said.

During the anniversary celebration of NCMB, Monday, Roque cited its efforts
in attending to labor disputes that resulted in faster disposition of cases,
noting that NCMB conciliators disposed actual strikes in an average of 20
days, 23 days faster compared to 43 days last year.

"The NCMB also disposed all of the work stoppages to attain a 100%
disposition rate," Roque added.

As of December 31, 2009, the country is strike and lockout free. Productive
mandays lost also declined to 6,560 from 38,711 last year as a result of
fewer strike incidences, despite the increase in workers affected by
strikes, Roque noted.

The vastly stabilizing climate in the industrial front is also reflected in
the declining number of notices of strike/lockout and preventive mediation
cases, he further said.

The NCMB docketed 285 notices of strike/lockout during the year, 21% lower
than those filed last year. The Board also received 479 new preventive
mediation cases, 11% fewer than those filed a year ago.

Efforts of the NCMB to resolve labor disputes resulted in the facilitation
of Php1.66B in monetary benefits for 22,569 workers.

Less government intervention in labor disputes

Roque also revealed that only 12 cases were subjected to his intervention
during the year. The 12 cases, he said, make up a paltry 1.4% of the 850
cases handled by the Board during the year as the Office of the Secretary
continues to exercise prudence in the use of its power to intervene in labor

The Secretary has instructed the Board to maximize conciliation-mediation
processes to explore all possible options for settlement before and even
during the intervention, if the parties are opened to further negotiation.

Some cases with pending petition for the Secretary's intervention were
settled through conciliation-mediation, rendering the petitions moot and
academic, as seen on the cases of Bank of Philippine Islands, Purefoods
Hormel Company, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation, Victor Potenciano
Medical Center, Republic Cement Corporation, Sagara Metroplastic Industrial
Corporation and Toyo Inc. Compounds Corporation.The cases of AFPSLAI and
Clark Development Corporation were likewise settled through

Even while a case is already pending with the Office of the Secretary, the
Board continues to conciliate and mediate between the parties in an effort
to find a mutually acceptable solution. The cases of Foremost Farms Inc.,
Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. - CDO Plant, Columbia Wire and Cable
Corporation and BPI Family Savings Bank were settled through
conciliation-mediation while the same were pending with the Office of the

SENA gains ground

Roque also imparted that the Single Entry Approach (SENA), formerly known as
the Free Legal Aid and Voluntary Arbitration Services (FLAVAS) continues to
gain wider acceptance as an option for resolving labor disputes.

He said, the SENA gives opportunities to non-unionized workers to avail of
the conciliation services of the Board.

In 2009, the Board received 900 requests for assistance under the SENA
Program, Secretary Roque disclosed, saying the successful resolution of SENA
cases during the year resulted in the facilitation of Php23M benefits for
some 1,550 workers.

Proactive activities

Also, through its proactive intervention, the Board assisted in the
conclusion of 18 CBA's, 6 of which benefited the covered workers with some
Php 68, 394,146.90 in monetary benefits.

Voluntary arbitration

The Board, through its accredited voluntary arbitrators (AVA's), received
some 119 cases in 2009, Roque said. He added that the resolution of 73 VA
cases benefited some 564 workers with Php 62M in monetary awards during the

Decisions of AVA's continue to enjoy wide acceptance, with its affirmation
rate in 2009 of 100%.

Proactive programs, key to fewer workplace disputes

Roque also cited the intensified efforts of the Board's regional branches in
promoting the twin programs on Workplace Cooperation and Partnership (WCP)
and Workplace Dispute Prevention and Resolution (GM) mechanisms as having
contributed heavily in stabilizing the relations between labor and

He said, WCP's/LMC's and GM's complement the Board's conciliation-mediation
services in maintaining a peaceful and stable climate in the industrial

To date, there are some 1,504 WCP's and 1,206 GM's nationwide, which
continue to benefit workers and employers in terms of best management
practices, improved productivity, open communication lines, improved
corporate social responsibility and fewer incidences of labor disputes, he

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