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MANKAYAN, Benguet – The municipal government lauded the management of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) for re-adjusting the schedule of the return to work of its employees that were mandated to go on forced leave until further notice to help in preventing the possible surge in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the municipality similar to what happened in other mine camps in the province over the past several weeks.
Earlier, Mayor Frenzel Ayong proposed to the company that the schedule of the return to work of the mine workers will be done on a gradual manner and for the workers that will report to work will be subjected to the required swab test before being allowed entry in the municipality.
Further, the company was also required to first allow the workers in low risk areas like those that are in the various barangays of the town to be the ones to report for work while those from the high risk areas will have to undergo the swab test and will be the last priority to report to work.
However, the company reportedly decided to move the schedule of the return to work of the employees to February next year to allow the prevailing community quarantine to be relaxed by the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
Mayor Ayong pointed out that the decision to move back the return to work of its workers was purely a management prerogative as the municipal government was able to propose possible alternative ways of how to be able to allow their workers to report to work for them to earn and sustain the living condition of their families.
According to him, while he values the importance of the workers being able to report to work to be able to maintain their jobs, there is a need to strike a balance o the efforts of the government to ensure the protection of the people from the pandemic and the economic aspect of life, thus, the affected workers should understand the aforesaid company decision since what is important now is that they will still be able to report for work on a delayed basis.
LCMC allegedly compelled some 300 mine workers to go on forced leave until further notice that caused an uproar among the affected employees as the same had been wrongly timed, especially in the present situation where people need their jobs to be able to sustain the living condition of their families.
Labor and employment officers claimed that eh mandatory forced leave of the mine workers until further notice is supposed to be a legitimate grievance that must be handled by the labor union where the same is said to be mediated by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), thus, it should be the union officers that will have to handle the issue as the representative of the affected mine workers.
If the company does not have a union to handle the said issue, it will be the labor department that will take charge of the legitimate labor issue being raised against the workers being required to go on forced leave until further notice. By HENT