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Ruckus at bus firm picket line as management brings 2 tow trucks.

A 30-minute commotion broke the 'peaceful' picket line of union members of Del Monte Land Transport Bus (DLTB) Co. on Friday as the management side brought two tow trucks 'to protect their buses from being burned.'

Dozens of management members led by DLTB general manager James Olayvar sent two towing trucks to get the buses off the terminal around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Members of the Alliance of Genuine Labor Organization (Aglo) union, who started a labor strike on Wednesday night at the company's various terminals across the country, watched from the sides as one of the buses-which had a flat tire-was being towed away from the terminal in Tramo.

Mel Gabriel, who was with the DLTB management, said they did not come to hurt anyone but to 'get and protect the buses from being burned.'

'Ayos lang kahit magkasira-sira pa 'yan, huwag lang nilang sunugin (It's OK if they cause damage on the buses, just don't burn them),' Gabriel said, referring to the five buses inside the DLTB terminal in Lemery, Batangas, which were allegedly burned by Aglo union members.

Aglo members pleaded to the police, who were meters away from the picket line, to mediate between the union members and the towing team.

'Sir, sir, maawa na kayo. Kailangan namin kayo rito. Tulungan ninyo kami (Sir, sir, have mercy. We need you here. Help us),' said Aglo spokesperson Nick Elman.

Minutes before the commotion started, Elman was talking to Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario Jr., Southern Police District director, and Pasay police chief Senior Supt. Lawrence Coop, to maintain the peaceful situation of the strike.

Apolinario said they deployed around 20 police officers to monitor the situation of the workers' strike and avoid Thursday's commotion after a member of the other union group, PTWGO, tried to remove the rope that marks the picket line.

Police stood beside the two groups and let the management tow the buses.

'We let them because the terminal and the buses were owned by the management. We cannot stop the due owner from doing what they want with their buses,' Coop said.

The commotion ceased when members of the Department of Labor and Employment-National Conciliation and Mediation Board of the National Capital Region, led by Director Reynaldo Foncadas, arrived and talked to Olayvar.

Foncadas said part of the agreement between Aglo and DLTB management was the 'voluntary' lifting of the picket line.

'Part of the agreement na magkaroon ng picket line, alam na ni Attorney Morales 'yan (The picket line was part of the agreement, Attorney Morales knows that),' Foncadas said, referring to DLTB president Narciso Morales.

'Ang agreement ili-lift na 'yung picket line na 'yan, ino-normalize na 'yung operation, then patuloy pa rin kung paano aayusin ang problema (The agreement was to lift the picket line, normalize operations, and resume talks on how to fix the problem),' he said.

Strike illegal?

Olayvar said the strike was illegal because Aglo was not the union honored by DLTB's collective bargaining agreement, but rather PTWGO.

He added Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III himself ordered Aglo members to cease from conducting the strike.

'All striking or locked out employees shall, within 24 hours from receipt of this order, immediately return to work and the employer shall immediately resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike,' the order signed on Wednesday by Bello read.

Jaime Miralles, lawyer of the Aglo members, however, said they had not yet received any copy of the order so the strike could continue.

The work stoppage of Aglo members delayed at least 10,000 passengers from traveling to their destinations, especially the Bicol region, during the holiday exodus to the provinces.

Ronald Austria, Aglo union president, said they were on strike after the DLTB management failed to give them increase in salary, as most of the members received only P337 daily, lower than the basic minimum wage of P491. They also complained of receiving only P3,000 to P5,000 in their 13th month pay.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 30, 2016
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