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Honda workers protest as shutdown nears

Words by Reuben Pio Martinez

Photo by LMNH-OLALIA-KMU

Workers of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) mobilized in and outside of the company’s manufacturing plant in Sta. Rosa after the announcement on Saturday of the facility’s immediate shutdown on March 25, 2020. 400 people are expected to lose their jobs.

HCPI workers were originally gathered for a meeting on market updates. Little did any of the present workers, majority of which have been employed for 25 years, knew that this was a means to show a video message from HCPI President and General Manager Noriyuki Takakura to formally announce the end of all operations for the facility.

In an official statement by the company, the shutdown transpired as an attempt to meet production and resource allocation standards. Sales services, however, would still continue in the country through the use of the company’s Asia and Oceanic network.

Prior to this, the militant labor union Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda (LMNH-OLALIA-KMU) initiated in dialogues with the management about the end of production for the City vehicle unit. This was originally produced alongside the BR-V model. This decision decreased the plant’s daily quota from 35 to 18. However, the management promised that no workers would be laid-off, as all extra laborers were said to be transferred to a supposed new department.

Immediately after the announcement, many of the workers, frustrated by the vagueness behind the decision’s rationale, remained in the premises with the supervisor and the manager, waiting for contact with the upper management. Christopher Oliquino, vice president of LMNH, stated that the workers relied on available supplies within the area to thrive throughout the protest.

LTI security forces would soon assemble in securing the area with barriers, a fire truck, and riot gear. Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) then joined to support their fellow workers inside by protesting in front of the industrial complex’s main gate. Reports would later surface regarding the security members preventing the delivery of supplies such as food and medicine.

The start of an exodus

Honda was not the only company to face a massive shake-up in employment. Nokia Technology Center Philippines laid-off 700 people after the facility was closed as market competition grew tougher to match for the company. Meanwhile, 700 more lost their jobs after it was announced last February 21 that Wells Fargo and Co. would be outsourcing its information technology (IT) and corporate resources to India, in addition to only retaining 50 tech experts in its workforce. A 28% loss in annual gain and a 6% dip in global figures lead to Nissan Philippines also considering the possibility of letting go 12,500 employees in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines, after a dialogue with labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, managed to get the Secretary’s commitment to investigate the grounds for the shutdown. Meanwhile, trade secretary Ramon Lopez commented that he would be discussing possible remedies to alleviate the issue. [P]

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