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Surigao port workers end 43-day strike after PPA kicks out their employer

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SURIGAO CITY—Surigao port workers ended their 43-day strike after their employer’s operating contract with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) was terminated on October 6.

The 102-strong Surigao Dock Workers Union declared a strike on August 24 after it accused the Prudential Customs Brokerage Services Inc. (PCBSI) of reneging on their Collective Bargaining Agreement, including failure to increase workers’ salary.

“Dock workers barricaded the port’s entrance and exit points, crippling port operations and forcing the management to divert ships to Cantilan port in Surigao del Sur and Nasipit port in Agusan del Norte,” said Atty. Roldan Calejesan, legal officer of PPA-Surigao.

With PCBI’s eight-year contract already terminated, union leader Artiquio Alciso said there was nothing to protest any more as workers technically no longer have a legal relationship with the operator.

With PCBI’s exit, Calejesa said PPA would take over port operations until it could find another cargo handling operator at Surigao port.

Dock union workers, he said, will be hired back as temporary workers until a new operator resumes management of port operations.

Alciso, the union president, accused PCBI of “miserably failing to live up to the CBA provisions.” He noted that dock workers had to stage protests three times under its management.

With PCBI’s exit, Alciso said they would also reorganize under a new union called the Surigao Port Services.

Ed Tidalgo, PCBI operations manager, could not be reached for comment. He also failed to attend the PPA conference meeting on Friday morning.

Former Surigao City councilor Jose Begil Jr., legal counsel of the union, said PCBSI still has the legal obligation to settle separation pay and other benefits due to the dock workers.

Herminigildo L. Daytoc, provincial director of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said the agency will request PCBSI to release the workers’separation pay as soon as possible.

“The dock workers are supposed to get the payment on the last day of work, which is Friday, but because of this problem we will make another conference with PCBSI, PPA and the dock workers,” Daytoc said.

Several business owners here welcomed the development, saying it would normalize operations at the port.

“For over 40 days we cannot ship our goods to Cebu and all our cargo from Cebu cannot be pulled out because of the barricade,” said Roney Leyson, a businessman engaged in printing services. (PNA/Roel N. Catoto)

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