Union leaders at Duty-Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) asserted that the labor situation at the DFPC—the GOCC mandated to operate the duty and tax-free merchandising system in the Philippines—is “taking a turn for the worse.”
The United Workers of Duty-Free Philippines-Federation of Free Workers (UWDFP-FFW) said in a statement that about 500 employees have signed a petition opposing the restructuring plan recently announced by the DFPC.
About 500 of the 700 DFPC employees and the UWDFP-FFW are appealing to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG) “to halt the hastily implemented restructuring plan,” the statement further said.
It called the restructuring plan as being “a retaliatory act in response to the union’s previous legal actions for smuggling and corruption against officials of the Duty-Free Philippines Corporation.”
The UWDFP-FFW added: “Last week, about 500 employees received a notice of separation and they have 15-days to reapply to 345 jobs available in the new plantillla. Others are yet to receive their notices. Imagine 739 employees to reapply to 345 jobs.”
UWDFP-FFW president Ernesto Mangalindan, in a follow-up union letter addressed to GCG Chairperson Justice Alex L. Quiroz, said “the employees expressed their concerns over the lack of transparency and consultation in the development of the restructuring plan.”
Mangalindan added: “We have already shown collective action in our petition opposing the restructuring, we will take more peaceful concerted actions including legal action in court if no concrete action to freeze or stop the attacks on our jobs is taken by the government in the next few days.”
The UWDFP-FFW has been fighting for its jobs since the last quarter of 2022.
“We are still open to dialogue, we call for a more inclusive and collaborative approach to address the organization’s challenges, urging the government to recognize the rights and welfare of the workers,” Mangalindan added.
“Employees believe the restructuring plan seems designed by the management to weaken the union’s bargaining power and silence any dissent,” UWDFP spokesperson Maricor Geslani said.
The Philippines is a signatory to ILO Convention 87, which among others, protects the right of workers—in the public and private sectors—to organize.
The UWDFP-FFW letter to President Marcos and the GCG likewise highlights the request of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco for a deferment, including the FFW’s request to assist the government in creating more productive and higher-quality employment opportunities.
Geslani also stated that the new implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) for the reorganization plan was drafted without consulting the UWDFP-FFW, the certified bargaining negotiation agent for the rank-and-file employees.
“The IRRs have provisions that are discriminatory and penalize employees who have been impacted by the massive termination by preventing them from being re-employed in public service for five years,” the UWDFP-FFW stated.