When the livelihood of a large group of people, of more than 2,500 mine workers are at stake, an uproar can be expected and it could be far worst than that. Without delving into legalities yet, we can say that they can’t be blamed for the lives of their families depend on their main source of income and if they stop working for even just a few days, it will definitely have a domino effect in several areas of their lives and their towns.
Let’s have a look at what prompted the outburst of emotions that led into a concentrated activity which happened last Saturday, August 09, 2014.
Since the mining operations opened in Zambales, thousands of residents became the immediate beneficiaries of the new jobs created by four mining firms in Central Luzon namely Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and Lnl Archipelago Minerals Inc.
A once barely coping town became alive and busy with the mining operation in their area, giving the townsfolk hope and at least fill in the basic necessities of their families. It may be a tough job for any men, but who would complain when one has not even finished grade school or has not gone to school at all? People like them will grab any opportunity to be able to work even for a meager salary just to have the most staple food on their tables.
To give you the best detailed story, kindly read this:
Over 1,000 mine workers in Sta. Cruz town in Zambales gathered on Saturday (August 09, 2014) morning in what was believed to be an opening salvo for the workers’ campaign in defense of the mining operation in their area. The workers’ caravan in this province rich in nickel and chromite is calling their local officials’ support in the tight to win back their jobs.
On Sunday, a special mass for the workers plight will also be held at the St. Michael Parish Church in line with this campaign.
The fate of more than 3. 000 workers, mostly from this town, now hangs in the balance after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region Ill of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources suspended the operations of four mining firms last month.
The workers of these companies have recently formed a group called Coalition of Mine Workers, Familles, and Communities (CMWFC) to press for the resumption of the mine operations of the four companies and the lifting of the cease and desist and suspension orders issued separately by the DENR on June 09 and July 15, respectively.
Orlan Mayor, spokesperson of the CMWFC with the temporary closures of the four mining companies, who are among the top nickel producers in the country, it is the Sta. Cruz town and its citizens who bear the full brunt of the government’s sanctions. ‘We are supposed to receive our salary next week What will happen to all of our families now that we don’t have jobs?” says workers who lost their jobs.
The prospects of finding new jobs for these workers are dim with only farming, apart from mining, as the primary source of livelihood in the province.
These workers hired by the mining companies previously worked as laborers or farmworkers for small-scale/backyard farms and earned not even half of the minimum wage they now get from the mining industry, besides the fact that as farm workers their jobs are seasonal.
The potential loss for the municipality who gets a hefty sum in taxes and fees from mining companies was also seen to affect the Sta Cruz people. ‘This Is apart from the fact that the local small businesses in Zambales were pushed up by the thriving mining industry here,’ he said. ‘The local businesses that experienced an upbeat in their sales since the full operation of the mining companies are now in fear of possible significant loss in their income•” Mayor added.
Around 7am on Saturday, the workers with their families and children In tow converged at the Sta. Cruz Amphitheater. They travelled in a convoy and made a stop at each barangay hail in Sta. Cruz to air their concern and urge their Barangay leaders to rally behind them. The workers’ group belied the allegations of the mining firms’ violations, saying all of them which the DENR has used as bases for issuing Its orders were either conceived by wild imagination or bloated by the anti-mining group led by Dr. Benito Molino.
They are referring to the statement of Dr. Molino that thousands of hectares of farm lands have been affected by nickel which caused farmers to lose their jobs and so their crops.
Results of the investigations of the local offices of the DENR and the Department of Agriculture in Zambales showed that only 30 hectares of land are affected by the nickel erosion and these are owned by 30 individuals contrary to the claims that there are thousands of hectares of farmlands affected, the group president said.
The group also recently found out that Dr. Molino indicated his plan to enter in the local political arena, which to some the complaint may be a move to get a government position.
Believing that it’s high time that the majority of the populace raise their voices against a handful of propagandist — whose only aim is to derail the social and economic development brought by the mining operations; the coalition also calls on their fellow citizens to speak out and not to fall prey at the political agenda of this pseudo anti-mining group.
I know it was a long read and I am very thankful for reading the entire post. My place is with the miners and I do pray that they get the justice they deserve.
Why stop something from progressing when it has been supporting the entire town for many decades now? Why just now and not 10 years ago? Care to share your views?