TUBA, Benguet – Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma challenged the management of Philex Mining Corporation to share its best industry practices in the area of labor and employment that sustained industrial peace in the mine site over the past several decades.
Laguesma was this year’s guest of honor and speaker during the celebration of the 62nd feast of the Sto. Niño de Prague, the mining company’s patron saint, over the weekend.
The labor social disclosed that one of Philex’s best practices that must be shared is its progressive occupational safety and health program where everyone in the company is committed in operationalizing the said program.
He stated that the company will always try its best to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to maintain if not continuously improve it.
As part of corporate advocacy and also as a way of helping the labor department to help occupational safety and health awareness and good practices, Secretary Laguesma encouraged Philex to share the same with other companies facing similar hazards and risks so that they can learn from the said program and make their own work places safer and more secure.
Another best practice that Philex must share, according to the DOLE Secretary, is its commitment to the principles of corporate social accountability and good corporate citizen.
Being an extractive industry, he pointed out that mining is one which often generates debates where there are those who say that natural resources, including minerals, are there for people to optimize but there are also those who say that the said resources are there to be preserved, and therefore should remain untouched.
He revealed that Philex has been operating since 1955, balancing between making the best of the country’s natural resources and at the same time trying to preserve the same for future generations.
Further, he emphasized that Philex has built a community that is self-sustaining, and has contributed in a major way to the economic development not only of the surrounding communities but also of the region and of the country as a whole.
As expected of any business, Secretary Laguesma stipulated that the company has always aimed for profitability but beyond the same, it has also enriched its business model towards achieving what people know as the triple bottom line.
On top of profitability, the labor official explained that the business should demonstrate social accountability and good citizenship with a corporate orientation towards doing good to people and the planet and, if ever harm is caused, to undertake reparations.
“Though it comes as a painful lesson and memory, there is no greater demonstration of this sense of social accountability and good citizenship as when disasters struck Philex in 2012. The easier path would have been for the company to leave and shutdown operations. Instead, the company took the more difficult path. It stayed. It rebuilt and made reparations to those affected by the accident. And this was made possible precisely because of the bonds that the company forged within its own employees and with the community and the region itself. That resilience has brought Philex to where you are today,” Secretary Laguesma stressed.
He underscored the need for Philex to also share its dynamic labor relations where Philex is a unionized company and that labor-management relations in the company has not always been calm.
Laguesma admitted that there had been labor-management conflicts here and there, and labor disputes and threats of strikes every now and then where some of the same may have been due to the passion and intransigence of parties involved. In most cases, the said disputes had been due to the varying perspectives of the parties on what is fair and just yet the company is still existing because there is also a level of maturity and tradition of labor-management relations that upholds the belief that parties can do better by listening to each other, negotiating and making mutual concessions until they reach an agreement.
He noted that the last round of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the company and the labor unions of the rank and file and supervisors can attest to the said fact.
Philex will be having future negotiations with the Philex Mines Supervisory Employees union (PMSEU) and the Philex Mines Independent labor Union (PMILU) for the next cycle of their respective CBA.
Secretary Laguesma insinuated that he is aware that there will be contentious issues that will be brought to the negotiating table in the upcoming cycle of CBA negotiations.
He assured that the labor department and its attached agencies will always be ready to provide assistance when needed but it is expected that the company and the labor unions will use the wealth of past experiences to again be able to resolve any issues at the negotiating table through mutual concessions and agreements.
The DOLE Secretary asserted that the strength of the company and employees was drawn from taking care of each other; from their commitment to the people, community, country and environment, and to the environment and from labor and management recognizing the value of shared responsibility in managing and regulating their relationship.