Apo Cement announces layoff

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo November 13,2018 - 10:45 PM

The facade of Apo Cement Corp. (across the highway) in Naga City, Cebu, the country’s second largest cement factory. CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO


AROUND 400 employees of Apo Cement Corporation will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s day without jobs.

Apo Cement, the second largest cement producer in the country, has announced on Tuesday their move to temporary layoff up to 30 percent of their regular employees and reduce their contractual workers by up to 40 percent.

The announcement, which was made during a workers’ general assembly at noon on Tuesday, shocked the over 800 contractual employees and 300 regular employees of the cement plant.

“Nakalitan gyud mi kay ganina pa ming udto nakahibaw nga mag layoff diay. Gipatawag mi tanan, gi-meeting unya gi-announce nga mag layoff,” said Johnrell Goles, president of the Apo Cement Workers’ Union.

(We were shocked because we were just informed about the layoff this noon. We were called to a meeting and the layoff was announced.)

“Kami mga breadwinner, naa mi mga anak, sa balay nga panginahanglan, naa pay utang, unsaon na man lang? Grabe gyud ang struggle namo labi na akong mga miyembro. Naa gyud nay mga nanghilak,” Goles told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.
(We are breadwinners. We have

children. We have expenses at home. We have debts to pay. We don’t know what will we do. The struggle is very hard especially for my members. There are those who even cried during the announcement.)

Bleak Christmas

Goles, a technician of Apo Cement for more than 11 years, was not among those who were served with a notice of layoff. But Goles said the pain for many of the union members was unbearable especially that the Christmas season is approaching.

The layoff will take effect a month after it was served, or on December 13, and will last for at least six months.

The decision to temporarily lay off their employees stemmed from the suspension of all the quarry operations of Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC), the main raw material supplier of Apo Cement, following the landslide incident at one of its tenement sites in Barangay Tinaan, City of Naga on September 20.

Worst hit by the landslide was Sitio Sindulan which buried nearly 60 houses and killed 78 persons, with six still missing up to now.

During his visit to the City of Naga on September 21, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered for the suspension of the operations of ALQC and for the temporary cancellation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the firm, pending their investigation and assessment.

“We are deeply saddened that we had to do this action and announce it today. We had a town hall session earlier with all our employees. It was a very sad session and some really cried when we told them the news,” said Chito Maniago, spokesperson of Apo Cement.

Maniago explained that with the suspension of their quarry operations in Naga City, they have been sourcing raw materials abroad and in other parts of the country, “a move that is putting significant cost pressures to the operations of the company.”

DOLE Notice

Apo Cement has already filed a formal notice of layoff at the Central Visayas office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7).

“APO Cement is still hopeful that the situation in Naga, Cebu will improve with the support of the local and national government authorities in allowing ALQC to immediately resume its operations and further for ALQC to be able to restore safety in the critical areas with the approval of its proposed Hazard Reduction Plan,” the company said in its official statement sent to CDN.

Maniago also assured that as soon as they will be able to resume its normal operations, the affected employees will be recalled.

Goles said they will be consulting with the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), to which they are affiliated, for further actions on the lay off.

He said they would be asking the help from DOLE to appeal to the DENR that the ALQC will be allowed to operate for the sake of the displaced workers.

Goles said about 90 percent of all employees of Apo Cement are residents of Naga City.

Naga City Regional Trial Court Assisting Judge Dennis Larrobis, on Friday, also released a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO), in response to the prayer stipulated in the P4.5-billion environmental case filed against ALQC, Apo Cement, Cemex Philippines, Naga City government, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-7) and the Cebu province.

The TEPO, which ordered the ALQC to stop its quarry operations on top of the DENR directive for the company to cease operations, was effective for 72 hours since it was served on Friday afternoon.

Today, the court will decide if there is a need to extend the effect of the TEPO until the termination of the environmental case.
Meanwhile, Maniago also said that they will stop providing the meals of the 8,000 evacuees housed in 11 evacuation centers in Naga City, starting Friday, November 16.

The company earlier committed to provide for the meals of the evacuees only until October 31.

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