By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Reggie Lumauag, 37, runs long distances every weekend, often joining fun runs and marathons. He is an elite runner who is among the top rank in some categories. Lumauag is set to represent the Philippines in a vertical marathon (running toward the top of a building) at Singapore next month.
But most of the week, Lumauag is a worker and since early this year, a union leader. His daily race involves making sure he does his job well and evading the threat of being dismissed from his job. About 300 employees like him (as claimed by the employers) work at Co Ban Kiat, a big hardware supplier. It has more workers than that, claimed Lumauag. He estimates that at the Parañaque warehouse alone, there are at least 100 contractual workers on top of the 300. The union estimates there are more contractuals, such as in the sales staff.
Co Ban Kiat hardware supplies large hardware stores such as in SM mall chain’s Ace Hardware, Robinson’s D.I.Y. hardware, and other hardware stores in Sta. Cruz and Binondo, Manila. It supplies big hardware stores that supplies smaller ones as well. Con Ban Kiat is owned by businessman Johnny Cobankiat, a partner of Henry Sy of SM and an officer of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Industries.
In Metro Manila Co Ban Kiat has at least three warehouses, the largest of which is in Parañaque, where Lumauag himself reports every day. At least four times a week this warehouse is restocked by deliveries of large container vans straight from the customs. Inside and outside its warehouse, workers like Lumauag navigate the aisles using either a forklift or a jacklift to transfer and deliver a wide range of hardware items such as safety locks and bolts, vacuum cleaners, pressure washers, handheld and power tools, ceiling fans, etc.
(Photo cortesy of Mayday Productions / bulatlat.com)
“We formed a union for our job security,” Lumauag said during their picket last week. From experience, he or any employee in Co Ban Kiat can be dismissed anytime “for baseless reasons.” Workers here who should have been declared as regular on the job, having worked satisfactorily for more than six months, get fired instead or else transferred to agencies supplying Co Ban Kiat with contractual labor..... MORE