Collective bargaining realities – Part 1

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As a lawyer, I am always fascinated by the dynamics in the field of labor, at least in the setting of the Philippines. One noted labor law expert and exemplified by case law or jurisprudence, the field of law is the most dynamic among them, like remedial (procedural) law, constitutional (political) law, among others. When I say dynamic, it is susceptible of so many changes to cope up with realities of life. Modesty aside, I can say that I have a good grasp of the basic fundamentals of labor law, part of my learnings in my alma mater, SLU School of Law. But my fundamental knowledge is not enough because I have to sip through the many cases decided by the Supreme Court and an experience in the actual plant level scenario.

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One aspect of labor law is labor relations. And in this aspect alone, matters on unionism, collective bargaining, discipline, grievance handling, and others has to be navigated in order to have a peaceful and happy environment in a particular environment. A disorderly, unhappy, and chaotic establishment will lead to nowhere but low production and output. This will be a headache to top management. The plant level dynamics is not learned in the four corners of a classroom in law school. Rather, it is accentuated by how labor and management handles their affair as a cooperative force towards productivity and profit. At the end, productivity and profit define good relationship.

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The political side or I may refer to as the inside intramurals of unionism has already settled down in the Padcal mine of Philex Mining Corporation. After a long process, the two certified unions in the said establishment are now ready to battle it out with their counterparts in the Management side. The rank-and-file employees is represented by the Philex Rank and File Employees Union, an affiliate of the Associated Labor Union. The rank-and-file group of employees is composed of the daily and monthly paid employees. On the other hand, the supervisory group of employees is represented by the Philex Mines Supervisory Employees Union. By its name alone, one can deduce that they are mainly supervisors. Of course, these unions do not admit some group of employees in the establishment. These are the confidential employees, the managerial employees, and those who belong to the security group. By law, regulations and jurisprudence, these kinds of employees were barred to join the rank-and-file and the supervisory unions.

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In simple terms, confidential employees are basically group of employees who in their duties and responsibilities have access or knowledge into top secrets of management, like a secretary to the president or resident manager. Obviously, managers being the direct representatives of management cannot join too. Include also the security group because it usually represents management in ensuring order in the establishment. Of course, these groups have also a recourse to send across their demands and wishes to management relating to improvement of benefits, wages, salaries and other terms and conditions of employment. They can always petition management to grant their requests and provided management has the means, more often than not, it gives in too.

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Back to collective bargaining, the two unions in the Padcal mine are raring to start the negotiation process. It already sent to management their respective letters to start the process. Of course, under the assumption that the unions have already their well-thought and well-studied proposals and strategy, management is expected to flex its muscles too by coming out with its own proposals and strategy. At the end, the two cooperating players will work for the betterment of the company to increase productivity and profit where the workers are happy to be sustained by agreed wages and benefits.

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Every day, as mercury is still rising, and so is politics at the national and local levels. Strategy and positioning is again gaining the limelight in broadsheets as well as broadcasts. No less than noy-P is now bewildered to make a pronouncement on who is his anointed successor to continue or discontinue his political slogan and battle cry, the “daang matuwid.” As interesting as labor dynamics, political intramurals will be keenly observed in the next days. Provided it will lead to the selection of a good servant leader, the Filipinos will and is always a willing participant. Afterall, who does not want the improvement of live and living? None!

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It is interesting also to watch how the Bangsa Moro Basic Law or BBL will transpire or fare in the Senate, as it was railroaded in the lower house. I wish that the Senate will stand its ground. I hope.

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The schools will open in a few days and like our kids, we had a great time navigating the pandemonium of other kids and parents in tow, as we join the fray for shopping for their needs. I thought that we missed the big sale in the biggest mall in our city that was last week. We still got some discounts and such a relief to our pockets and parents. Time flies so fast that we are already in the middle of the year, school time and morning rush time with the kids!

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