Labour riots in the Philippines

This week there was a strike at PLDT telephone company. The reason for this strike are the plans of automation with computers which will lead to dismissals of thousands of employees. In Cebu alone it will cost more then 1000 jobs on all levels, therefore not only on offices. At this moment there is only 1 girl working behind the counter and the rest of the employees is on strike.

Last years in the Philippines, the competition among telephone companies is increased considerable and that is why automation is introduced to reduce the costs.

A few years ago there were only 2 telephone companies in Cebu, PLDT and Islacom. PLDT was the best and Islacom was only used if there was no line available from PLDT. Islacom had as disadvantage that there was a limit of calls to and from PLDT lines. This way, as a user of PLDT lines, you could wait for hours till even half a day before you could reach someone who was using an Islacom line.

That is why IPís have some lines of both, many companies do. Everywhere in the city/barangays the connection cupboards were completely used and were only extended if there was a reasonable number of requests for new connections and therefore profitable. In some cases when someone ended his contract with PLDT, this situation lead to prices up to P8000 if one of the neighbours wanted to take over the PLDT line from the one who ended it.

Now there is a competition fight and everywhere there are new connections possible due to extending of the cupboards. Also, on many places appear payphones on the street from, I thought, Bayantel. Normally, individuals and shops let their phones, P5 for 5 minutes, which was a profit of 100% because no conversations costs were paid as long as the call was local. Only with long distance calls the account incurs.

Also at VECO(electricity company) there are notifications of job losses by automation

And then there is the yearly X-mas bonus on the city hall in Cebu, this year it only exist out of 25 kilos of rice and nothing more. A lot of complaints from the employees about this and the mayor gave a nice reply on television with the following words: "If somebody donít like it, he/she is completely free to resign and work somewhere else!"

Briefly but strongly therefore. It would be better if they would introduce automation instead of the messy administration there is now. Half of the employees(maybe more) is texting on their phones, powdering and plastering their faces and if they have a job where it is possible to wrest bribes from the customers by slowing things they will do it. Usually this happens openly, sometimes they ask the customer directly for a bribe.

A large replacement of employees by automation would be more than desirable. I would not be surprised if this mayor would do this quickly indeed. The man does not love half measures. Right after his inauguration for mayor he introduced that the barangay police had to be present at the police station all day or to perform labour as barangay police. It was quite common that the barangay police received a salary and in the meantime they worked somewhere as a carpenter/plumber or else during the day.

Just now on television there was a bad development for one or more groups of rebels. In Manila a party of goods which as far as I could see, existed of 5 pallets was checked because they didnít trust the enclosed papers. A large amount of fire arms like pistols, machine-guns etc. was found. They all came from Yugoslavia, brand Zastava was written on the crates and papers. A load of ammunition was included.

That's all.

Many thanks to Its me, a forum member for translating this column !


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©Holland & Philippines website, Cebu City/Philippines 1999


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