Sept. 19, 2002,

Philippines: dismissed employees fight uphill battle against Bayer

AFTER close to thirty years of loyal service to Bayer Philippines, electrical engineer and union president Juanito Facundo feels that all he got in return were two years of hardship and a pending labor case.

Administrative staff member and union treasurer Virginia Capada suffers the same fate. The two were former employees of Bayer, a leading German-based drug firm, and they claim they were terminated from work without prior notice and unceremoniously evicted from the office. And all because they were union leaders, they suspect.

"I was 51 when dismissed from my job," Facundo told the Inquirer. "Who else would hire me? I could work abroad, but I would not neglect my case." Facundo said that for the last two years, he has been hard pressed in providing for his family, especially with three of his children in college. Almost 54 now, he found it difficult to find a new job because of his age. Facundo and Capada filed the case with the National Labor Relations Commission after they were fired from the drug firm.

They both came in for work one day, and were told to report to the administrative manager, who subsequently served them their termination papers, which immediately took effect. Plainclothesmen even accompanied the two when they collected their things that same day and escorted them to waiting vans. The drug firm cited redundancy as the reason for the complainants' dismissal. Facundo and Capada also said they were not given prior notice and only learned about their termination on the same day. In their complaint, Facundo and Capada claimed their positions were still needed.

Facundo said in his case, a licensed electrical engineer is required for companies as mandated by law. After the termination, Facundo said the company has even advertised for an administrative supervisor who must also be a licensed engineer, and for administration staff members, which were basically the same positions he and Capada used to occupy.

The NLRC has dismissed their complaints, but the two have filed a motion for reconsideration. In their motion, the two said their dismissal was union-related, as they believe they are being discriminated against for testifying in an unfair labor practice case against the company's officers and for leading a 1997 strike against the company.

Facundo also told the Inquirer that he had felt being harassed after he was assigned to do odd jobs and transferred from one office to another.
Ever since the union went on strike in 1997, Facundo said he had been under intense pressure. Yet he did not leave, he said, because he had done nothing wrong and had been loyal to Bayer.

The 53-year-old Capada, on her part, found it hard to believe she was terminated so quickly and for such a flimsy reason. She believed her being the union treasurer had something to do with it. She said she now carries the burden of meeting her financial obligations while spending for her breast cancer medication.

Now, two years after being fired, the former union leaders are trying to get the proper compensation that should be accorded to employees who have served the company for as long as they have. The amount is also being disputed in their labor case, and the two fear that a long wait is before them.
by Leila Salaverria, Manila, Inquirer News Service