The city of Santa Rosa in Laguna at first glance seems like a spender’s paradise in the Philippines, having large-scale amenities such as a local theme park in the vein of Disneyland, attracting tourists from out of town. But even the Sta. Rosa residents can afford such thanks to employment provided by major businesses in the community. One of these is Japanese automaker Honda, which has an assembly plant in the city along with several others. The Honda assembly plant has been a generous provider of work for Sta. Rosa, which is why the employees are very upset and concerned about the plant’s announced closure.
As Iniquirer.net tells us, following the announcement of Honda Cars Philippines Inc. that their assembly plant in Sta. Rosa is being shut down by their Japanese corporate headquarters, some 200 of the 380 regular workers who were looking at their workplace being closed decided to hold an impromptu protest. They have barricaded themselves in the factory canteen since Saturday, February 22, when they were prevented from entering the assembly building by company security. Their only demand from their short-notice strike was that they be properly compensated for losing their jobs.
Looking at the severance package being put together for the soon-to-be affected employees, Honda was trying to maintain the generosity they have been known for since their plant opened in the 1990s and recruited its personnel en masse. The Philippine Labor Code sets separation pay as equivalent to either a half- or full-month worth of salary for every year the employee served in the company; Honda is promising two months’ pay for every year, with conditions depending on age too. But assembly plant worker Christopher Oliquino believes even that is too little to support an employee cast adrift only a month after closure was announced.
That is a major sticking point with the Sta. Rosa workforce, in that their Honda plant was giving only a month’s notice for their shutdown, when other assembly plants being shuttered by Honda Japan all over the world have much longer before effectivity. For instance, a Honda UK plant announced to be axed will continue to operate until 2021. Even if the difference in volume manufactured is immense – 150,000 Honda cars there for every 20,338 from Sta. Rosa, yearly – that is cold excuse for the workers in the Sta. Rosa assembly, refusing to leave and subsisting on rationed food from the canteen’s supply stock.
With Honda ceasing manufacture of its cars in the country, the one last notable assembly plant left in full operation in Southeast Asia is in Thailand. For the protesters, even with the severance packages, the future only looks uncertain for many.
Image courtesy of Business World