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PHILIPPINES: UNWCF wins guarantees limiting the impact of "teams"

After 3 months of hard bargaining the Union of Nestle Workers Cagayan de Oro Factory (UNWCF) has won guarantees that ensure Mission Directive Work Teams (MDWTs) will not undermine trade union representation or undercut the benefits members enjoy under the existng collective agreement.

In June we reported on the rolling protest actions by UNWCF in response to management's attempts to undermine trade union rights. One of the key concerns was the proposed introduction Mission Directive Work Teams (MDWTs) - a “total quality management” program involving "teams" that threatened to undermine union representation in the workplace.

UNWCF was also concerned that MDWTs would be used to introduce individual productivity-based wage increments (to "motivate" workers to participate in MDWTs) which contradicts the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that provides for a general, across-the-board wage increase for all members.

Finally after more than 3 months of tough negotiations, UNWCF, a member of the IUF-affiliated Council of Filipino Nestle Unions (CFNU), has successfully negotiated the terms and conditions of MDWTs and won a series of guarantees concerning trade union rights and members' benefits.

In response to union demands, management agreed in writing to the following:

1. Nestle will always uphold the freedom of association of its employees and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. The company will refrain from any action restricting employee's right to be or not be affiliated to a Union.

2. The company will continue to abide by the existing CBA which provides for guaranteed wage adjustments, including 14th month pay. The company guaranteed the concept of wage adjustments during CBA negotiations.

3. The management does not intend MDWTs to tackle issues discussed during CBA negotiations and will not allow the MDWT meetings to become a venue for discussion of Union-related issues.

4. The organization will continue to recognize, in addition to the guaranteed wages as provided for in the CBA, both individual and team performance, consistent with the Performance Excellence Program (PEP).

5. The team will vote for their team leader. The term of the leader will be determined by the team and be part for the ground rules of the team. The opportunity to be a team leader will rotate amongst the members of the team.

6. MWDT will not be used as a reason to reduce work hours from 6 days to 5 days.

7. If a benefit is affected as a result of MDWT implementation, the company will find ways to compensate the same in a manner which is equitable to the employees.

8. Meetings should be conducted within the workers 8-hour shift.

9. Selection of team members will start with appropriate trainings for its members.

10. Review of the implementation of MDWT during monthly UNION-MANAGEMENT meeting.

These guarantees, including a regular monthly review by the union and management, will ensure that these new "teams" will not become a substitute for the union and will not lead to either discrimination or loss of benefits.

[For more background see: Union protests Mission Directive Work Teams (MDWTs) and individual performance based wage increases, 14 June 2007]