More benefits granted to Benguet mining workers and employees

BAGUIO CITY–After the so-called Gina Lopez “effect”, which threatened uncertainty and fears in the mining industry, it’s back to normal for one of the country’s biggest gold mining companies as it signed another collective bargaining agreement with its local union staffers.

In a ceremony last Friday at the Baguio Country Club, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company signed a two-year CBA agreement with the 180-member Lepanto Local Staff Union. The CBA covers the 2016-2017 period.

Last March 25, the Lepanto Local Employees Union, the group of rank-in-file workers of LCMC, signed a similar agreement in achieving industrial peace.

Lepanto President and Chief Operations Officer Bryan U. Yap signed the CBA with LLSU President Steve Pomeg-as.“The completion of our CBA bolsters my hopes for the continued healthy relationship between labor and management, and mutual trust,” Yap said.

“We hope that we can always amicably discuss all concerns and issues so we can concentrate on the more difficult task ahead – improving our efficiency and increasing productivity,” he added.

“We negotiate because we want to improve,” Pomeg-as said. “We have thoroughly presented the highlights to our members last April 29 and they were unanimously accepted.”

Among the benefits granted to the employees in the 11th CBA are lump sum in the first year and a wage increase in the second year as well as allowances in longevity and cost of living.

VP Knestor Godino, who negotiated the agreement with the LLSU, said that the negotiations wouldn’t have lasted that long if not for the so-called Lopez effect. Some of the workers, he said,  were either demoralized over the impending suspension of operations upon order of the former Environment Secretary Lopez, or they would have taken part in rallies and demonstrations in Manila supporting the mining industry.

“The real CBA is in the implementation itself so were we negotiating for something that can be implemented? This will remain as cost if we don’t convert this to productivity,” he said.

Yap said that with the signing of the CBAs, the company would focus on its now copper-gold project, with its reopening of the energite copper mine aside from its quartz pyrite gold endeavor.

Witnessing the CBA signing were Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Cordillera Labor Regional Director Exequiel Guzman, Gabriel Bayang of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board; and Lepanto officials and workers. Thom Picana/NPN-northboundasia.com