Universal Weavers Corporation workers demand job security and benefits

This article is available in Pilipino

The United Workers of the Freeport Area of Bataan (NMFAB) and Workers Alliance in Region III (WAR 3)-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) supported the fight for job security and rightful benefits by workers of the Universal Weavers Corporation (UWC), a factory in the Freeport Area of Bataan, Mariveles, Bataan. These workers have been on “forced leave” for almost a year. They have been prevented from working since early 2023.

The company’s excuse is that it no longer receives “production requests and orders,” thus it no longer needs workers in the factory. “This is not new and is already an old tune by the capitalists. Workers have long known this will be used to justify putting them on “forced leave,” according to NMFAB.

NMFAB believes the company receives new orders but prefers to bring production to Cambodia since wages are even lower there. The company also evades its responsibility to workers, the group asserts. “Management has numerous excuses to salvage its profit and escape its responsibility of giving wages and benefits to the workers,” they said.

Because of the widespread and prolonged “force leave,” many workers were forced to resign altogether. They fear that the capitalist will eventually close down the company.

The management also pushed workers to sign a waiver stipulating that they agree to look for another job even if they are on forced leave. This is most possibly a deceptive move which runs counter to the law prohibiting a worker from working in another company when on forced leave since their SSS contributions still being deducted from their salary.

“It can also give the capitalist leverage to invalidate the workers’ years of service and to legally fire them from the factory without providing separation pay,” they further explained. These violate workers’ rights to wages, jobs and rights, NMFAB insists.

Facing this, the NMFAB believes that workers must unite and resist capitalists’ schemes. The group challenged Universal Weavers Corp. Workers Association-Confederation of Filipino Workers (UWCWA-CFW), the factory union, to lead the fight and be the workers’ voice. Workers have the right to file a lawsuit and jointly hold the company responsible for the illegal dismissal, it said.

“Workers must show that they are ready to fight for their rights even if it leads to a strike. This is the right time to show that the union is ready to ensure the job security of its members and take care of them,” according to the group.

“This condition of workers in the country is a symptom of a serious disease of the system where workers do not enjoy living wages, rights, and job security,” according to WAR 3-KMU.

UWC manufactures medical and thermal blankets, gowns, uniforms, and other garments for medical use. It is the largest medical bath blanket and linen manufacturing company in Asia.

AB: Universal Weavers Corporation workers demand job security and benefits