Return to work or face sanctions, Beneco employees told

Return to work or face sanctions, Beneco employees told

MANILA – All Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) personnel have been warned that sanctions will be meted out to those who will refuse to return to work.

The warning was issued amid the ongoing leadership issues concerning Beneco.

In an Oct. 18 advisory issued by Beneco project supervisor Omar Mayo, all employees have been “highly encouraged to report back to work.”

“Failure to do so will result in appropriate sanctions,” the advisory read.

According to reports, Police Regional Office personnel went to Beneco’s headquarters on Oct. 8 to install lawyer Marie Rafael as the new general manager of the power utility serving Baguio City and Benguet province.

The move came amid opposition over the new appointment of Rafael, a former assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Beneco employees reportedly did not report to work to stage a protest following the incident.

While Beneco employees have the right to peaceful assembly and to protest, their acts should not be “contrary to law,” Mayo said.

Citing a Supreme Court (SC) ruling, Mayo said a strike can only be carried out in the presence of an “industrial or labor dispute.”

“A valid strike, therefore, presupposes the existence of a labor dispute. To conduct a strike be it in the form of a sit-down strike otherwise known as the sympathetic strike, where the striking employees have no demands or grievances of their own, but they strike for the purpose of directly or indirectly aiding others, without direct relation to the advancement of the interest of the strikers, is illegal,” he said.

On Sept. 21, the National Electrification Administration issued Board Resolution 2021-106, placing six members of the Beneco board of directors, board president Esteban Somngi, and general manager Melchor Licoben under a 90-day preventive suspension for opposing Rafael’s new appointment.

Mayo said a protest staged by Beneco employees to “show sympathy to employees who were dismissed is not a labor dispute.”

“Hence, the strike has no basis,” he said. “The issue of the appointment of a General Manager and the designation of a Project Supervisor cannot be resolved by a strike. It is not a labor dispute. We are governed by laws, hence, let the law takes its own course.”

Mayo warned that those who will refuse to heed his advice may face either suspension or dismissal from service.

“If declared illegal, the consequences may range from suspension to dismissal from employment,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, what was claimed to be a peaceful picket turned rowdy as protesters persuaded employees from reporting for work.

Joel Anglog, an employee of Beneco, was reportedly beaten up and chased by protesters when he and some other employees were entering Beneco’s South Drive office. Some employees were said to have been hurt and verbally abused. (PNA)

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