Sauna-workers in the Philipines protest against lay offs

About 80 workers of the finish company Sauna World (SAWO) Inc. Philippines, a sauna and spa-heaters exporter, marched from their factory, reportedly the first time that a rally staged a rally inside the Mactan Export Processing Zone, before proceeding to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office to file complaints of illegal dismissal. Regional Director of SAWO Elias Cayanong said that the office will negotiate for a cutdown on the company’s working days to minimize labour cost without necessarily firing workers from the factory.
However, if this scheme is not approved, Cayanong said the least that the DOLE can do is to assure the workers of their separation packages, which were reportedly promised to them by the company when they were terminated. He added that the workers wanted a bigger separation package than what was offered to them by the company.
52 regular employees and 32 contractual employees were reportedly barred from factory premises on Monday when they tried to clarify why they were given retrenchment notices after the company declared a temporary shutdown from April 3 to 8. According to a statement by the Partido Manggagawa, this came only two days after receiving their letters of termination on April 11. Some of the workers reportedly received their termination notices the day of the rally.
Although the company’s human resource manager Chelo Getatua cited financial losses as the reason for the retrenchment, the workers alleged that they were fired from their jobs because they had filed an illegal dismissal complaint before the DOLE office on April 1, 2009 on behalf of another batch of workers who were fired after a dispute with the SAWO board of directors.
The earlier batch of laid-off workers had reportedly sided with one of the company’s Finnish owners who was fired from the company on “trumped up charges.”
According to Elena Juen, leader of the laid-off SAWO workers, when the 78 workers filed the complaint, they were immediately removed from their posts over the weekend. Juen, who has worked for the company for five years, also insisted that the company was not experiencing financial losses since it had been continually receiving orders from abroad.

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