Bar Hostesses and Taxi Drivers Rout Strikers, Dismantle Barricades
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines (AP) _ About 300 bar hostesses and taxi drivers, hurling rocks and wielding sticks, routed scores of Filipino workers blockading this U.S. base on Sunday and tore down barricades set up by the workers in a 9-day-old strike.
Filipino police fired shots into the air to break up the clash and minutes later, the first car carrying American service personnel dressed in fatigues drove through the Clark gate, which had been sealed off by the strikers.
The bar hostesses and drivers of taxicabs and jeepneys dismantled the workers’ barricades to protest the strike, which they said was ruining business in the entertainment district of Angeles town outside the base.
No one was reported hurt in the 20-minute clash.
Both sides threw rocks at each other before the outnumbered strikers retreated.
The bar hostesses cheered as the first car of U.S. service personnel roared into the base.
The melee broke out a few hours after union leaders and Brig. Gen. Charles Luigs, commander of the 13th U.S. Air Force based at Clark, had met inside the base and again failed to reach agreement on how to settle the dispute.
The strike by 22,000 Filipino employees has affected Clark, Subic Naval Base, and a half-dozen smaller U.S. facilities.
The strike-breaking assault came 18 hours after about 1,500 bar hostesses, drivers and restaurant owners held a peaceful demonstration outside the base to protest the longest workers’ walkout to ever affect U.S. military facilities in the Philippines.
″They are very hungry and they miss their boyfriends,″ Franko C. Abrillo, head of the local entertainment industry, said to explain why the hostesses had joined in protesting the strike.
Abrillo estimated that night clubs and bars, restaurants, and the local transportation industry had lost the equivalent in $1 million in income since the strike began.
The U.S. military refused to discuss workers’ demand for severance pay until the barricades, which had prevented U.S. personnel and their dependents from going in and out of the bases, were lifted.
″The bar hostesses and taxi drivers have no right to demonstrate against our strike. This is a dispute between the U.S. military management and labor and it’s none of their business,″ strike leader Roberto Flores had said after Sunday’s talks with Luigs.
″We don’t want to see Filipinos hurting Filipinos even though we do want the gate open,″ Air Force spokesman Maj. Thomas Boyd said.