Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Support Kowloon Restaurant Workers!

I was a student activist during my college days. Part of our activities that time was to integrate with the workers and other marginalize sectors of our society. During summer, we normally go to countrysides to help organize and live with peasants. We also visit workers on their picket lines; help them on their campaign; raise funds for their fight, lean from their experience, etc.

One of the picket lines that I visited was Kowloon Restaurant in Malate. The workers went on strike due to unfair labor practice. I still see some of those workers everytime I attend a rally or gatehrings of progressive groups.

I just learned today that Kowloon Restaurant Workers are on strike again. Here's a backgrounder from Red Students Will-

Before June of this year, the Kowloon management refused to pay the minimum wage which was mandated by law. In fact, it did not follow the three most-recent wage hikes, amounting to 82 pesos. As a result, while other workers were already receiving at least P382 a day, the workers of Kowloon only got home P300.

To pressure management into giving them SOMETHING WHICH THE LAW ALREADY MANDATED AS THEIRS yet which management refused to give, the workers wore black ribbons at work in a single day last June. But instead of listening to the workers, management instead reprimanded them, especially the union leaders.

Afterwards, they decided to hold a "picket protest" AFTER their WORK-HOURS and AWAY from any locations that would result in DISRUPTIONS of OPERATIONS. Afterwards, management decided to hold negotiations with the union. But secretly, they filed a case of "illegal strike" against the workers at the NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission). So when management did agree to raise their wages to P377 a day, the workers only enjoyed this wage hike for one pay day. Why? Because the other Saturday, all 73 members of the union were fired.

Meanwhile, the contractual workers of Kowloon receive only P250 a day.

All of this is ironic because Kowloon could easily pay for the demands of the workers. After all, the owners of the restaurant never applied for "exemption" from the minimum wage, something the Law affords to businesses that can't afford to pay the minimum wage to its workers without going bankrupt. A lot of local businesses do that, but Kowloon never did. Its either they simply can afford to pay the minimum wage, or the owners of the restaurant have a severe case of amnesia (selective that is).

To illustrate their point, the workers calculated the amount in backwages (the amount of wages which all workers in Kowloon should have received if management had obeyed the three most-recent wage hikes). They then compared it to the sales for a SINGLE product of the restaurant: the siopao. Their calculations showed that the total backwages owed to all the workers was more than equalled by Kowloon sales for siopaos in only 11 days!

If this is greed at its worst, then the NLRC is stupidity exemplified. It ruled in favor of Kowloon management, agreeing that the workers indeed held an "illegal strike". How could that have happened? Could it be possible that someone from NLRC forget that the definition of a "strike" is a stoppage of work? How could there have been a strike, when the workers protested outside of their work hours?

As of my writing, the workers of Kowloon have already established their picket line. To confront these unarmed and hungry workers, management has hired so many security guards that they virtually equal the number of striking workers. Who has heard of a restaurant with 20-30 security guards? The only restaurants that I know that have such a number are those in the movies that house activities of the Mafia. Come to think of it, its appropriate. The Kowloon management's greed and dishonesty in dealing with the workers can only be described as nothing short of "criminal".

And like everything in the Philippines, the Government sides with the thieves, not the theft victims. The Phil. National Police keeps a few cops on the scene at the ready... to disperse the picketline should there be a moment where no outsiders will intervene. Members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Phils. have installed a security camera near the picket line, an obvious attempt to harrass students and youths who have regularly visited the picket line in the past few days to show their support to the workers.

Read a related report from inquirer.net.


  1. ay, apol.. para ka palang si bossing ko. ganyan din sya nung college days nya -t-bak!

  2. hindi ba standard ang bayad ng mga empleyado ng Kowloon? Marami silang branches pero bakit yung sa Malate lang ang nagi-strike? E di wag muna nating tangkilikin yang restaurant na yan. Tutal nagsawa na ko sa kanilang jumbo pao nuong 1970's eh.

  3. cool naman ni Bossing! :-)

    Tito R, yung Malate branch ang alam ko nagsara na eh, yung isang branch sa QC yata ang naka strike ngayon.

    Boykot Kowloon Restaurant! :-)