Petron Bataan Refinery defies DOLE, suspends union officers

Petron Bataan Refinery defies DOLE, suspends union officers

LIMAY, Bataan — The Petron Bataan Refinery (PBR) here on Monday suspended 24 officers of the striking union despite the return to work order given by Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Nakakalungkot isipin pero kailangan sundin. Dumating na po ang assumption order mula sa office ng DOLE kung saan may return to work order na para sa lahat ng empleyado (It is quite sad but we have to follow. The assumption order has arrived from the DOLE office wherein there is a return to work order for all employees),” said Gerald Medina, president of the Bataan Refiners Union of the Philippines (BRUP), in a statement Sunday.

The striking workers, who complained of union-busting and the company’s non-compliance with the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement, were dispersed before noon on Sunday.

Medina said their group has more than 630 members but 176 have already been terminated.

“Ganap na alas-7:20 ng umaga ng ika-6 ng Enero, kami po ay hindi pinapasok sa aming mahal na kumpanya sa kabila ng return to work order na binigay ni Secretary Silvestre Bello III ng DOLE. Pinagtibay nila ang preventive suspension sa kadahilanang illegal daw ang aming naging strike (At around 7:20 a.m. January 6, we were not allowed to work despite the return to work order given by Secretary Silvestre Bello III of DOLE. They approved the preventive suspension claiming our strike was illegal),” the union president said.

Medina said PBR’s suspension order was contrary to the assumption order of the Labor department. He said they will question the legality of the suspension order of 30 days or more against him and 23 other BRUP officers.

Bello, in an order dated Jan. 3, 2020, said DOLE assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute between PBR and BRUP.

“Any intended strike or lockout or any concerted action is automatically enjoined. If one has already taken place, all striking and locked out employees shall, from receipt of the order, immediately return to work.

The employer shall immediately resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike. The parties are likewise enjoined from committing any act that may further exacerbate the situation,” the order said.

He also directed the parties to appear at the initial hearing of the case at his office in Intramuros, Manila on Jan. 10, 2020.

Bello, in his order, said work stoppage at the biggest oil refinery in the country will not only adversely affect economic and business activities but will also cause disruptions in the provision of basic services to the public, such as transportation and electricity.

The secretary said PBR contributes greatly to the national and local economy as it stimulates business, generates income, provides employment and generates revenues for the government.

“It is the utmost concern of this office to avoid work stoppages, particularly so when there are alternative mechanisms in place to resolve the parties’ differences,” Bello said. Ernie Esconde / PNA –