Steel factory workers want to return to work

San Simon, Pampanga — “We were misled!” This was the chorus of all 42 workers of Real Steel Corporation here who recently filed their resignation after being deceived by former employees who spread “baseless and unfounded” stories against the firm’s management, as the group appealed for reinstatement.

“Naniwala kami sa kwento at paninira ng dati naming kasamahan... wala po kaming reklamo laban sa kumpanya kasi maayos naman ang pagdala sa amin bukod sa maayos at airconditioned na barracks na aming tinutuluyan,” said one of the employees, who requested he not be named, as he was among those who voluntarily resigned due to homesickness.

The Department of Labor and Employment regional office in Central Luzon also clarified reports the 42 Real Steel laborers were allowed to leave the job site after they filed their resignations and were not “rescued” as earlier reported.

“It was just a miscommunication and wrong angling of the story by a media entity from Manila,” said Maria Zenaida Angara-Campita, DOLE 3 regional director, stationed at the Government Center in the City of San Fernando. 

The workers are appealing to management to take them back, as they said they were deceived by a former employee who apparently spread the wrong stories about Real Steel.

Campita said there are more than 400 workers at the Real Steel Corp., but only 42 of them voluntarily resigned due to “homesickness” after a six-month lockdown imposed by the company to prevent them from being infected by the coronavirus.

“They were prevented to go out of the factory compound because of the quarantine issue and lockdown and health concern,” said Campita, adding that DOLE-3 is looking into alleged offenses committed by Real Steel in terms of administrative violations.

Meanwhile, Real Steel owner Irwin Chua cried foul over reports made by other media outlets and posted in various social media platforms. 

He described it as a form of harassment aimed at discrediting the good name of the company.

“Hindi po perpekto ang Real Steel pero sinisiguro po namin na tuloy tuloy ang pag improve nang aming sistema at pamamalakad,” Chua stated in a statement read to reporters by one of his staff.

Real Steel general manager Melodie Arellano strongly denied the alleged maltreatment and illegal detention complaints by workers, saying the laborers were prohibited to go outside of the compound due to health concerns and nothing else.

“Pinapayagan namin silang lumabas but not in group. Hindi pwede lumabas lahat, batch by batch lang. Kapag nakabalik na ang iba sila naman ang palalabasin,” Arellano pointed out during a recent press conference held at the Real Steel office at Barangay San Isidro here.

Campita, however, said the DOLE-3 inspection team noted minor offenses as it vowed to initiate corrective measures to improve the steel factory’s operations. 

She said the company is paying more than the minimum daily wage, each worker receiving P750 to P850 per day. 

The local police here issued a certification of compliance of the mandatory drug test to ensure a drug-free workplace, Campita added.

The certification was signed by former police chief Police Major Freddie Herry, to belie reports that workers are being forced to use illegal drugs before reporting to their respective workstations.

Topics: Freddie Herry , Real Steel Corporation , Melodie Arellano , Department of Labor and Employment

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