Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma lauded Philex Mining Corporation for its good labor relations resulting in a good working environment in its Araw ng Parangal program on Jan. 14 at Padcal, Tuba, Benguet.
Laguesma, who was the guest speaker during the event as part of the annual celebration of the 62nd Feast of the Santo Niño of Prague, Philex’s dynamic labor relations leading to resolution of issues with its employees through mutual agreements.
There were labor-management tensions and conflicts through the years which led to threats of strikes in various cases, but Philex continued to communicate with its workers through its labor unions.
“You are still here because there is also a level of maturity and tradition of labor-management relations here in the company that upholds the belief that parties can do better by listening to each other, negotiating and making mutual concessions until they reach an agreement,” Laguesma said.
Laguesma also lauded Philex Mine’s progressive occupational safety and health program and its commitment to corporate social accountability.
He said there will always be a debate on the operation of the Philex Mines because it is an extractive industry, but the company has tried to balance between making use of the natural resources and preserving it for future generations.
On top of profitability, the DOLE secretary said any business should demonstrate social accountability and good citizenship and if ever harm is caused, to undertake reparations. He cited the Philex Padcal mining spill incident in 2012, when 20.6 million tons of toxic tailings spilled on water bodies, which caused the suspension of Philex operation and led the company to compensate the community for the incident.
With the hazards involved in mining, he added there is all the more a need for the management and the employees to work together to exercise vigilance and assume direct responsibility in ensuring that safety and health measures are always in place in all areas of the mine site.
“The three points I mentioned, from the standpoint of DOLE, are what constitute the strength of the company and its employees. It is a strength drawn from taking care of yourselves and each other, from your commitment to people, community, country and environment,” he said.
Philex Mining Supervisory Employees Union President Dominador Sotelo said they recognize that the mining firm is their source of livelihood that is why they strived to work harmoniously with the company.
Laguesma together with Philex President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio Austin, Jr. led the awarding of plaques and cash incentives to outstanding employees during the program.
Recognized for their 25 years in service were Legal Department chief Enrico Arceo; Mine Group Manager Paul Ngoddo; Senior Laboratory Analyst Aida Elvira Padagas; former Cluster Coordinator Mila Salinas; Rosalia Sabelo, a cook from the General Services Department and teacher Maria Theresa Navarro from the Philex Mines Elementary School, Inc.
Meanwhile, awarded as “Philex Best” were Ben Mariano as the best underground supervisor, Teodoro Guiniguin as the best surface mine supervisor, Bernard Molina as the best underground miner, Jail Piguro as the best surface miner, Franklin De Francia as the best underground safety inspector and Sonny Navarro as the best surface safety inspector.
Philex has two labor unions, the Philex Mines Independent Labor Union for its rank-and-file employees and the Philex Mines Supervisory Employees Union for the supervisors.
Last year, the PMILU and Philex signed a P385.855 million five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) package which will benefit the 1,287 daily and monthly paid workers.
He said the DOLE will always be ready to provide assistance during CBA negotiations of the firm and its employees to reach a win-win agreement. – Ofelia C. Empian