According to Dr. Robin Mann, founder and  head of Centre for Organizational Excellence Research  (COER)  Massey University,  “Benchmarking is learning from the experience of others. Good practices are a combination of effective management, training, and innovation. It is then important that these good practices are shared.”

The plant visit to San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB), Mandaue City on July 27, 2016 was a worthwhile learning experience for me not only as a Labor Information  Officer (LIO) but as a technical staff of NCMB.  As labor employment officers, we frontline the promotion of industrial peace and one of the best strategy is to benchmark with other companies.

As part of the Video Production and Storytelling seminar, the team was tasked to produce a video presentation on the best Labor Management Cooperation (LMC) practices of SMB.  Each member of the group was given a part to do. I and Remus Caducoy of RCMB-7 were assigned to interview the three officers of the company about their LMC practices.  I interviewed  Mr. Ricardo Tablante and Leo Rameses Amoyan, Plant and HR Managers respectively, while Remus talked with Mr. Mariano Tecson, union president.

According to Mr. Tablante, SMB has had no labor cases filed before the NCMB for the past 5 years. This was confirmed by NCMB Deputy Executive Director Edmund Mirasol.  Consequently, this is attributed to their strong labor-management cooperation.

“LMC is where we gather and share ideas. It is important that we get along well because we spend 8 hours of our lives in the workplace. Whether we like it or not, we will see each other, work together, so in some way, we discuss ideas to improve our work environment”,Tablante said.

Mr. Amoyan also shared that San Miguel has always valued communication.  They manage their relationship in an informal manner.  “We do not believe in the boardroom approach, the setting is too formal. We believe that in informal setting, management is more forthcoming in giving out information about the new policies and requirements of the company. In the same way, workers do not hesitate to share their ideas and issues that may occur due to new policies”, he relayed.

 To conform to these pronouncements, Mr. Tecson was also interviewed. He recounted the times when filing of labor issues was a common occurrence at SMB. Grievances were lodged almost daily. The union always go against management which even resulted to violent strikes. But such situations eventually ceased. He revealed how the SMB Mango Tree became the instrument for the transformation from the turbulent to harmonious labor-management relations in SMB.

Initially, the “manggahan” served as a smoking zone. A meeting place to eat, drink coffee and to relax. Then, it became the convergence area for management and labor to discuss everyday working life  and clarify directions and concerns with openness and spontaneity.

The talks under the mango tree started 8 years ago.  The informal discussions remarkably increased the productivity and improved the working relations between labor and management. It has also earned the company the reputation as the best LMC in the region and a recipient of Gawad Galing Pook Award as the best  local Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) for Mandaue City.

The three officers further said that CBA negotiations became smooth and speedy because the issues have already been discussed “under the mango tree” three months prior to the negotiation. The last two  CBA negotiations were done in a record of less than one (1) day.

This story shared by San Miguel is worthy of emulation. I will relay this story to other companies and challenge them to do the same. I hope that the story will touch, teach, inspire and motivate them too.

Maggie B. Balagtey