Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced today the amicable settlement of the brewing labor dispute at Berong Nickel Corporation.

The notice of strike filed by the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Berong Nickel Corporation was settled through conciliation-mediation on 02 October 2015, through the efforts of RCMB IV-B Director Lourdes P. Estioco, Baldoz said, quoting reports from NCMB OIC Executive Director Shirley M. Pascual.

The union filed a notice of strike on September 17, 2015 alleging the company of refusal to bargain, after the management delayed its counter-offer to the union’s proposal for their first ever collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“We only had one meeting since we submitted our CBA proposal way back in June 2015,” Sofriano M. Mataro, the union representative, said.

He said subsequent conferences after that initial meeting did not push through because of the postponements made by management.

The initial meeting to resolve the dispute was held on September 21, 2015, where the management representative assured that the company’s counter proposal would be presented in the next conciliation meeting on October 2, 2015.

The union also raised two additional issues during the initial meeting: illegal suspension and dismissal.

On October 2, 2015, management submitted its counter-proposal which paved the way for the eventual settlement of the dispute.

Mataro thanked management for keeping its promise. “Although we have initial comments on management’s counter-proposal, these will be discussed comprehensively during our negotiation conferences,” he said.

The parties agreed to start their CBA negotiation on October 17, 2015 and every 3rd Saturday of the month thereafter, in accordance with their ground rules.

On the issue of illegal suspensions and dismissal, both parties agreed to discuss the issues separately at the plant level.

Baldoz commended Estioco who settled the dispute in only two weeks from its filing.

“Estioco took advantage of the prevailing cordial relations between the parties to resolve their differences in so short a time,” Baldoz said, even as she lauded the parties for their openness and sincerity that contributed to the early settlement of the dispute.

“If the dispute lingered on, it could have matured into something more difficult and more serious,” she added.

SMBC is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of the rank and file employees of Berong Nickel Corporation. The union is affiliated with the Associated Labor Unions – TUCP. It has 312 members led by Jerson P. Cabriano, the union president.

Berong Nickel Corporation, partly owned by DMCI Mining Corporation, is located in Barangay Berong, Palawan city. It is engaged in the exploration, development, and mining of mineral properties. It employs more than 1,000 workers. – Dir. Lourdes P. Estioco, RCMB IV-B