But in the Philippines, hiring in the informal sector is standard operating procedure, just as turning a blind eye is considered conventional wisdom. For a moment I feel guilty at my apathy towards the maintenance men in my condo. Do they have a union? No. Don’t they deserve one?
The workers tell me that since security manager Roland Rojo was employed a year ago, things started to become somewhat totalitarian. While the maintenance remained understaffed (35 workers for 394 units) a large number of guards were hired. The workers were reportedly ordered to not speak to guards unless spoken to. Former aircon technician Chris says that three years ago things were both jovial and efficient. After Rojo they were prohibited from entering units and equipment rooms without security escorts, which cost extra time and manpower.
To ameliorate the understaffing, several maintenance jobs were outsourced allegedly to a group related to Rojo’s circle.
To ameliorate the understaffing, several maintenance jobs were outsourced allegedly to a group related to Rojo’s circle. The workers claim that they had to finish the incomplete but overpriced work done by the agencies. The PPTCC (the condominium corporation) claims the purported misuse of funds is libel.
The PPTCC, while not open to press statements “until matters were resolved by DOLE.”, says in letters to homeowners that the union’s claims are spurious and manipulative. The same letters state that a momentary lack of water supply was caused by the workers and is considered sabotage.
Then the story starts to get absurd.
The workers recount their experiences with security manager Rojo’s temper. Romy, a terminated contractual employee, says that Rojo removed his shirt and challenged the detachment commander to a fistfight in a dispute over where guards could sleep. Rojo was also reported to have broken a computer monitor in a rage. The security of Pacific Plaza declined to comment on these incidents.
Now the strike has been ongoing for over two months, and there is little sign of change from inside.
Now the strike has been ongoing for over two months, and there is little sign of change from inside. A large picture of PPTCC board president Gemma Gemayel is displayed above the shelter. I am told that while she holds the power to resolve the issue, she is the least sympathetic to the workers’ cause.
When we think of laborers on strike we imagine a man working long grueling hours in a factory, breaking his back for minimum wage. Too often forgotten is the man who keeps your water running, fixes your aircon, or cleans your windows. Too often forgotten is the man who greets you good evening as you return from work to a warm and tidy lobby.