Agreement Reached In Strike At U.S. Bases
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A government official said today negotiators have reached an agreement to end a strike by 22,000 Filipino workers at U.S. military bases, but a union leader said he must consult members for their final decision.
″The leaders agreed to end the strike ... I am confident this is firm. I am confident they will return to work tomorrow,″ deputy Labor Minister Carmelo Noriel told The Associated Press after a mediating session.
The Filipino workers at Subic Naval Base, Clark Air Base and a half-dozen smaller U.S. facilities have been on strike for 11 days.
Roberto Flores, president of the striking workers’ federation, said he was satisfied with the compromise proposals drawn up by the U.S.-Philippine Joint Labor Committee, and would ask the strikers to lift their barricades.
″I am satisfied, but I need to consult with them (the workers) before a decision is made,″ Flores told the AP. He did not say how the union members would decide whether to accept the proposal.
Noriel said he believes the workers will back the agreement, which would grant each of them a bonus of about $100 upon signing of a new collective bargaining agreement and a subsidy of 110 pounds of rice every three months. He said the cost of the rice subsidy would equal $1.45 million a year.
The official Philippine News Agency said Monday that President Corazon Aquino had agreed to help resolve the dispute, but there was no word on whether she had a hand in the negotiations.
Barmaids and taxi drivers who said the strike deprived them of their earnings because U.S. servicemen could not leave the bases dismantled strikers’ barricades at the gate to Clark Air Base over the weekend.
But the strikers still were blockading the entrance to Subic Naval Base.
There was no word on when that blockade would be lifted, although Noriel and Murphy today signed a resolution calling for removal of barricades and resumption of work while negotiators deal with unresolved issues. Another meeting was scheduled Friday.
Workers at Clark returned to their picket line today, but American personnel moved in and out of the base freely. Some non-union workers, including janitors and household help, also have been allowed in since Monday.
The workers, who earn between $1 and $2 an hour, went on strike after the U.S. military refused to grant their demand for severance pay upon resignation, the only demand out of a total of eight points which the military did not accept.
Later, the federation offered counterproposals, including retirement upon reaching the age of 45, a monthly bonus of 110 pounds of rice for each employee, and a one-year moratorium on layoffs.
Nearly 40,000 Americans, including 16,500 military personnel, live on the bases or in off-base residential areas.
Clark is the home base of the 13th U.S. Air Force and provides logistics to U.S. forces in the Pacific. Subic is a major repair base of the 7th Fleet.