U.S. Bases in Philippines Reopened as Workers End Strike
Striking Filipino workers tore down barricades at the largest U.S. military base in the Philippines late Wednesday and bowed to the advice of union leaders, ending a 12-day labor action that had hampered much of the U.S. military operation here.
As the final wildcat pickets made their way home early today, base officials announced that all American and Filipino civilian and military personnel were free to report for duty at the sprawling Subic Bay Naval Base in Olongapo, 60 miles northwest of Manila.
Similar barricades were removed from Clark Air Base on Tuesday after a confrontation between strikers and bar girls from nearby Angeles City angered over the lack of business caused by the strike.
The decision by the 22,000 Filipino employees to allow U.S. personnel to re-enter Subic and Clark came after several days of negotiations between U.S. officials and union leaders, who were seeking severance pay in cases of voluntary resignation.
No formal settlement had been reached on the issue by this morning, and negotiations were continuing. Union leaders said they abandoned the picket lines after base negotiators convinced them that no substantive talks would be held until workers reopened the bases.
U.S. officials contended that the barricades were a violation of a 1985 agreement between the U.S. and Philippine governments providing for free access to the two bases at least until 1991.
News of the agreement was welcomed by the owners of the 300 bars and restaurants in Olongapo, who estimate they have lost at least $1 million in business in the 12 days that American base personnel were barred from entering or leaving the base grounds.