Published: 20/06/2011

Union workers from the DUSIT Hotel in Manila who were dismissed en masse in 2002 during a dispute over renegotiation of their collective agreement are still fighting for justice. The workers are members of IUF affiliate NUHWRAIN.

200 workers were dismissed after some came to came to work with shaved heads or closely-cropped hair to symbolize their deep frustration with the unreasonable delay in the negotiations for the renewal of their collective bargaining agreement with the hotel. When they reported for work, Dusit Hotel Nikko security guards blocked them from entering the hotel for alleged violation of the Hotel’s grooming standards.

The hotel management used the mass dismissal of NUHWRAIN members to encourage the establishment of an organization called Dusit Hotel Employees Labor Union, demonstrating that the dispute was never about “grooming standards” but rather intended to eliminate the legal collective bargaining agent for the hotel employees.

Following a lengthy appeals process, these anti-union dismissals were upheld in a November 11, 2008 decision of the country’s Supreme Court which ruled that by shaving their heads, the workers had engaged in illegal strike action. The Supreme Court decision effectively allowed employers to subjectively determine what constitutes industrial action.In 2009, the IUF filed a complaint to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association as the ruling was in clear violation of fundamental trade union rights guaranteed by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.(even non-signatory countries can be the subject of CFA complaints – 87 and 98 are considered binding on all member states).

In 2010, The ILO issued a strong recommendation that the dismissed workers should either be reinstated or adequately compensated, declaring the Supreme Court ruling contrary to the principles of  freedom of association.
To date there has been no progress. In fact, the company is still trying to pressure workers into dropping their case, most recently by visiting them at home individually to intimidate them and offer money. The workers are standing strong and united: after nine years they still meet regularly and have vowed to continue their struggle for justice.

The union has launched a public campaign to pressure the government to implement the ILO recommendations. To sign their petition to the Minister of Labour, Click Here.

The Dusit workers have also made a short video about their struggle, which you can view here