‘Auto workers have every right to seek protection’

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    The Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA) yesterday slammed lawyers of automotive companies for questioning the group’s legal personality to petition for safeguard measures on imported vehicles.

    In a statement, PMA said it is a legitimate stakeholder in the automobile industry as it represents workers and their families who are more vulnerable to any disruption in the production process.

    “The country’s top law firms representing automobile companies have joined forces against the PMA, challenging its legal personality within the industry. We find it ironic that PMA, which is trying to contribute to the survival of the industry is being accused by the management of not representing the industry,” said Ruel Punzalan, PMA president.

    PMA accused the management of these automotive companies, their associations, and their lawyers of conniving to cause the dismissal of Filipino workers.

    The group cited initial investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which revealed a decline in auto workers by 100,000 previously and recently, by 86,000 jobs because of the influx of completely built-up units.

    DTI imposed provisional safeguard duty in the form of a cash bond at P70,000 per unit for sedan and P110,000 per unit for light commercial vehicles.

    “Protecting domestic auto manufacturing sector is necessary because of its forward and backward linkages with other sectors, and hence, the capacity to generate more jobs,” Punzalan said.

    PMA also said its petition and corresponding positive response is not unique and has precedence, proving that workers are morally and legally are actual stakeholders to the industry they belong.

    “Other unions have made similar petition to support their respective industries, and the government seeing the merit, has supported them,” the PMA said.

    PMA cited a 2020 case of the US-based United Steelworkers which filed a complaint against China on rare earths and tungsten and a case where the US imposed additional duties on imports of certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China in response to a petition by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers Union in the US.