KMU: Police in industrial zones violate labor rights

Labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the creation of police offices in Central Luzon industrial zones, saying the move violates the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to form and join organizations.

The KMU blasted Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region III and the Rodrigo Duterte government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the agencies announced the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) to prevent militant labor groups from organizing unions in the region.

“The creation of the JIPCO is a direct attack on workers’ basic right to form unions –our legitimate means to collectively fight for our basic interests and welfare as workers. The JIPCO is meant to stifle not the so-called ‘radical labor infiltration’ but the workers’ very right to exercise self-organization and union work,” KMU Chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.

PNP Central Luzon director Police General Rhodel Sermonia last Wednesday, January 22, led JIPCO’s launch at the Clark Freeport Zone in Zambales Province “to act as the first line of defense from radical labor infiltration of the labor force and the industrial zones in support of ELCAC (End Local Communist Armed Conflict).”

With Sermonia as guests of honor and speakers were presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez, newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) Direcor General Archie Francisco Gamboa, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director Charito Plaza. 

The KMU however said there can be no peace anywhere in the Philippines if the PNP, known for criminal and deadly practices such as “ninja cops” and “Oplan Tokhang”, are tasked to prevent unionism in factories and workplaces.

The group also noted that both the PNP and Philippine Army have repeatedly accused militant labor unions of being supporters of the underground communist movement in the Philippines. The creation of a JIPCO is precisely aimed to prevent organizing of unions which will affect the entire labor sector, it added.

“The [NTF-ELCAC] has been weaponized to the extent of violating fundamental rights of workers to form unions, which are clearly provided in the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, as well as International Conventions. The JIPCO in effect bans the existence of any union and all unions in Central Luzon,” said KMU’s Labog.

The militant labor group charged that the JIPCO is a project of the National Task Force- End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which was created through Executive Order No. 70.

“That the JIPCO is a mechanism to defend industrial zones from radical labor in support of the ELCAC is all rhetoric for crushing legitimate people’s organizations carrying legitimate demands, such as unions calling for higher wages, regular work and implementation of labor standards, especially in Economic Zones which are not regulated by the Labor Department,” Labog said.

The labor leader also added that “only the few big capitalists stand to benefit from the eradication of unions in the economic zones.”

The KMU Chairman asked workers and the people to launch actions and engage all institutions to stop JIPCO even as it looks for possible legal actions against the PNP and PEZA. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Regent Foods planning ‘run-away shop’ tactic after Mayor Vico warning, workers say

Regent Foods Corporation (RFC) management is set to implement a “run-away shop” tactic with its threat to transfer out of Pasig City, the snack manufacturer’s striking workers said.

“The Regent management just proved what we have been pointing out since we started our strike and mounted our picketlines last October 16 — that the RFC management will implement a runaway shop and lockout of its plant in Pasig City to get rid of the issues we are raising,” Regent Food Workers Union (RFWU) president Tita Cudiamat said.

Cudiamat was reacting to RFC’s statement that it is now mulls transferring its business out of Pasig City after Mayor Vico Sotto advised the company to rethink its position of filing charges against its striking workers.

“If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position,” Sotto warned.

“Moving forward, RFC may simply accept its fate that the Pasig City Administration will unjustly make life hard for it and its 400-strong workforce, and contemplate simply bringing its business elsewhere,” the company said in a statement.

Cudiamat however said that RFC’s reaction to Sotto’s warning proves the company’s “illegal” plans.

Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines echoed the strikers’ accusations that RFC implemented a “long  list of unfair labor practices against their workers.”

“For the longest time, striking workers have been airing out and complaining about the management’s attempt of runaway shop, lockout, union busting, unfair labor practices, contractualization, low wages, unpaid benefits, and violations of the workers right to union and strike,” Defend Job Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy said in a statement.

Magsoy defended Sotto who also raised funds to allow some of those arrested, including a bystander, to post bail last Monday.

“No amount of defensive statements and baseless attacks against Mayor Vico can justify the long-drawn hardships of Regent workers for almost three decades of existence of this company,” Magsoy said.

Both RFWU and Defend Jobs Philippines warned the RFC management to brace itself for countercharges they plan to file in several legal venues the company’s “unfair labor practices, abusive acts…and the violent dispersal” last November 9 that also injured several workers.

“Instead of lying and spreading fake news and charges, the RFC management must focus in addressing our legitimate concerns. If they will remain firm in fabricating lies and stories, then we have no resort but to fight back in whatever legal and just means possible,” Cudiamat said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Regent Foods products

Stop suppressing workers, Vico tells Regent Foods

Pasig City mayor Vico Sotto vowed to defend the 23 arrested workers of Regent Foods Corporation after company owners decided to go ahead with its charges of physical injuries against the strikers.

In a Facebook post, Sotto said he will do everything within his power to help the arrested workers regain and maintain their liberty.

“Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, I talked to the 11 still inside and assured them that I will personally make sure that they are out on bail by Monday,” Sotto posted.

The mayor said 12 of those arrested have already posted bail, including the tricycle driver who was arrested with the workers.

Sotto said Regent owners, couple Irwin and Susan See, refused his request to drop charges against the workers, prompting him to “speak out in public.”

“I asked Regent to withdraw the charges against the 23. Mr. Irwin See and Ms. Susan See separately asked me to give them some time to ask their board,” he revealed.

The Sees reportedly told Sotto that the company board would talk about his request and that he will be informed once a decision is reached.

Upon multiple follow-ups by his office however, the company’s lawyers informed the mayor they would not withdraw the charges, saying they will “just trust the judicial process.”

The mayor slammed the company’s decision.

“[That] is of course easy to say as multimillionaires who will eat (three times) a day no matter what happens here; while the people they have sued have recently lost their main source of income and are now even torn away from their families,” the mayor fumed.

Injured Regent Foods workers after violent dispersal by company guards last November 9.

The 23 workers were arrested after a violent dispersal by the security guards last November 9, injuring several of the workers.

The workers launched their strike last October 16 demanding regular employment for long-time employees and salary increases.

They also complained of non-implementation of the collective bargaining agreement, non-recognition of the new leadership within the union and physical and verbal abuses by management.

The workers immediately sought Sotto’s mediation and help in keeping their strike peaceful and safe but the mayor initially clarified he cannot interfere with the labor issues as those fall under the jurisdiction of the labor department.

“However, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing,” Sotto said Sunday.

He further revealed that Regent management hired outside private security to disperse their employees on strike last November 9 that turned violent.

“The situation was naturally tense and violence broke out. I have seen videos of the workers being kicked by the private security as they lay on the ground,” the mayor said.

The tricycle driver who was arrested with the workers and two of their supporters was an innocent bystander “who just went down to see what was going on,” the mayor said.

Sotto said he condemns the company and its owners’ “misuse” of “[their] privileged position to suppress the rights of [their] protesting workers.”

 “These people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you. They are fighting for what they believe to be just. You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail!” Sotto said.

“If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position,” Sotto warned.

Image from Regents Foods website.

Regent Foods Corporation manufactures Cheese Ring, Cheese Ball, Snacku, Sweet Corn, Tempura, Labzter, Jelly Candy, Fiesta Cakes, Mixed Cakes, Assorted Cakes, Ube Cake, Pandan Cake, Melon Cake, Strawberry Cake, Mocca Cake, Custard Cake, Lemon Cake, Cheese Cake and Belgian Waffle. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Labor Rights Defender Network inilunsad

Inilunsad kamakailan ang isang network para matulungan ang mga manggagawa sa pagtatanggol sa kanilang karapatan at seguridad. Nagtipon ang mga abugado, propesor, taong simbahan, labor rights advocatea at iba pa para buuin ang Labor Rights Defender Network (LaRD).

Ayon sa LaRD, sa kasalukuyang administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte, lalong tumindi ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga manggagawa. Kabilang na dito ang pagpaslang sa 43 lider manggagawa at labor rights advocates, pambubuwag sa mga unyon at welga, red-tagging at ilegal na pag-aresto sa mga union organizer.

Iniulat din ng LaRD na kabilang ang Pilipinas sa mga bansang may lumalalang rekord kaugnay sa paglabag sa karapatan sa trabaho at mag-unyon. Kahanay na nito ang ilang mga bansa sa Africa at Asia-Pacific.

Layunin din ng LaRD na tipunin ang pinakamalaking network ng iba’t-ibang grupo para itaguyod ang maayos na sahod at dignidad sa paggawa ng mga manggagawa. (Music: News background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Welga inilunsad ng mga manggagawa ng Super 8

Inilunsad ng mga manggagawa ng Super 8 Warehouse ang kanilang welga sa Axis Road, Brgy. Kalawaan sa Pasig City noong Agosto 6 laban sa malawakang tanggalan sa kanilang kumpanya.

Itinayo nila ang welga dakong 7:00 ng umaga at lumahok ang 88 manggagawa.

Mariin nilang binatikos ang management na Matapat Service Cooperative na siyang pwersahang nagtanggal sa mga manggagawa.

Bukod dito, tinututulan din nila ang mahigpit na pamamalakad ng Agency, panggigipit at pangwawasak ng unyon.

Nagtungo sila sa Pasig City Hall kung saan kinausap sila ng bagong mayor ng syudad na si Vico Sotto.

Hiling nila na maibalik sila sa trabaho, maibigay ang kanilang mga naudlot na benepisyo at kilalanin ang bagong tayong unyon. Nasa 200 kontraktwal na mga manggagawa ang nasa Super 8 Warehouse sa Pasig.

Ito ay pagmamay-ari ni Alvin Lim, founder at CEO ng Super 8 Retail System at sister company din ng Suy Sing Commercial Corporation. (Music: News background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Striking workers are parents too

By Sanafe E. Marcelo

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

“I will do everything to send my children to school. I do not want them to experience this kind of difficult work,” said Marifor Busadre, 32, a mother of four and a contractual worker of Peerless Manufacturing Company (Pepmaco) for three years running.

Mariflor endures all kinds of pain at work, such as skin rashes because of direct contact with strong chemicals used for the manufacture of Pepmaco’s detergent products such as Champion. As a packer, she received P375 per day including overtime work. Her wage, way below the mandated minimum, is not enough to feed her family and it is a daily struggle to keep aside money for their other expenses such as her children’s school supplies. Her eldest is in high school.

Being a contractual worker worries her no end. “I joined this strike to fight for our rights. I am getting old. I hope that the management will grant our demand to make us regular workers and allow us back to work,” she said.

Marifor and dozens of other Pepmaco Workers Union members launched their strike last June 24. Aside from poor pay and being kept as contractual workers, they also complain of dire working conditions.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Like Marifor, Christine Sudoy, 22, is a three-year contractual worker, a mother and her family’s breadwinner. “I am worried that I can’t support the financial needs of my family. I am also worried for our health safety and work security,” Christine said, explaining why she too joined the strike. Christine said they often feel they were not being treated as humans, but as work animals and machines.

The company, she said, ordered them not to use gloves in handling the chemicals “because the products may be affected.” There were also no face masks provided, the management saying these cost too much at around P1,000 per piece. They work 12-hour shifts and days-off are prohibited. Women in the packing section carry around 11,000 kilos a day and only receive P610 a day, including overtime work. 

Aside from Champion detergent, Pepmaco also manufactures Systema toothpaste, Calla fabric conditioner, and Hana shampoo and hair conditioner.

Even if they do not succeed with their strike, Christine hopes things would be better for future Pepmaco workers. “I hope they do not experience the violations we suffered,” she said.

In the early hours of June 28, just four days into their strike, “goons wearing face masks and in full battle gear” arrived on board two vans and container vans and swooped down on the strikers’ camps while most of them were resting or sleeping. Eleven of the strikers were injured in the attack.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Romeo Aldamar, 33, nearly two years on the job as a contractual worker, was badly wounded when their picket line was attacked by company guards. “I was hit on the head, my skull and nose had bone fractures. The goons kept on spraying jets of water at me even if they could clearly see I was already bloodied,” he said.

Romeo’s wife, though still supportive of the workers’ strike, asked him to stop. But Romeo said he explained to her that he could not. “I will still stand together with the union to fight for our rights. I do this for our children,” he said.

Romeo dreams of sending his children to school and for them to finish college degrees. He said it is difficult for high school graduates like himself to find jobs. “I will endure anything for them. I wish they would never experience working in a factory like Pepmaco,” he said. #

Striking Pepmaco workers. (Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao)

Si Jimmy at mga manggagawa ng PEPMACO

Si Jimmy Sioson ay isang kontraktwal na manggagawa sa Peerless Producers Manufacturing Corporation o PEPMACO na sumali sa welga simula noong Hunyo 24 sa Canlubang, Laguna.

Ibinahagi niya na bukod sa pagiging kontraktwal, masahol ang kanilang kalagayan sa pagawaan. Walang safety procedure at napakainit ng sabon na kanilang niluluto. Bukod pa rito, 12 oras sila kung magtrabaho, at kahit holiday a pinapapasok pa sila nang walong oras.

Nang buwagin ang isa nilang picketline noong Hunyo 28, isa si Jimmy sa malubhang nasugatan. Bukod sa tinamaan ng bato ang kanyang ulo, pinagpapalo pa siya ng mga gwardya at binomba ng tubig.

Hiling niya na pansamantala munang i-boykot ang mga produkto ng PEPMACO at humarap ang may-ari para matugunan ang kanilang mga hinaing. Ang PEPMACO ay pagmamay-ari ng kapitalistang si Simeon Tiu. Ang kanilang mga produkto ay ang sabon na Champion, detergent powder na Calla, Hana shampoo at Systema toothpaste. (Background Music: Tangerine Dream-Valley of Sun Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Si Lian at mga manggagawa ng PEPMACO

Si Leandra Segunla o Lian, 31 taong gulang at anim na taon ng production helper sa Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation, mas kilala sa pangalang PEPMACO, ay isa sa mga sumali sa welga simula noong Hunyo 24.

Ayon kay Lian, bukod sa mababang sahod at kontraktwalisasyon, kalunos-lunos din ang kanilang kalagayan sa loob ng pagawaan. Nariyan na haluin nila ang kemikal ng sabon na walang gloves at kanilang mga kamay lamang. Sinabi pa niya na halos wala nang paglagyan ng paltos ang kamay niya dahil sa sobrang init ng sabon na niluluto nila.

Marami din ang tinanggal ng magbuo sila ng unyon. Apat na araw mula ng maitayo nila ang welga, marahas silang sinalakay ng mga gwardya at goons ng kumpanya. Winasak ang kanilang mga kubol at marami ang nasaktan.

Sa kabila nito, determinado silang ituloy ang welga dahil bukod sa makatwiran ito. Ito rin ang sandata ng kanilang pagkakaisa para makamit ang kanilang minimithi.

Ang PEPMACO ay pagmamay-ari ng kapitalistang si Simeon Tiu. Ang mga kilalang produkto nito ay sabon na Champion, Hana shampoo, Calla detergent powder at Systema toothpaste.

Music: Tangerine Dream-Valley of Sun
Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao

Pepmaco guards attack sleeping workers, 12 injured

Men wearing face masks attacked two separate camps of striking Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation (Pepmaco) workers in Laguna at one o’clock this morning, injuring 11 workers.

Injured Pepmaco Workers Union workers. (PWU photos)

In an alert, the Pepmaco Workers Union said that hundreds of “goons wearing face masks and in full battle gear” arrived on board two vans and container vans and swooped down on their camps while most of them were resting or sleeping.

“They immediately swung with batons and fired jets of water at the workers who were prone on the ground,” the union said.

“Not contented with their initial attack, Simeon Tiu’s goons also threw big rocks at the workers,” the workers said.

Pepmaco owner Simeon Tiu. (PWU photo)

Tui owns Pepmaco, manufacturer of detergent brand Champion, as well as Systema toothpaste, Calla fabric conditioner, and Hana shampoo and hair conditioner.

Most of the victims suffered head injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital.

“The picket lines were destroyed, along with our food stash,” the workers added.

The attackers left on board the vans after while their shields and batons were taken inside the factory premises, they added.  

The workers also reported that one of the suspects was seen loitering outside the hospital where the injured were taken in an apparent attempt to intimidate the workers.

The workers launched their strike Monday complaining of mass termination, contractualization, union busting, low wages, 12-hour workdays, seven day workweeks, and unsafe working conditions.

Earlier, the union posted photos of workers with skin injuries resulting from the harsh chemicals used in manufacturing the company’s products.

Pepmaco workers’ injuries while working in the factory. (PWU photos)

Pregnant women also suffer miscarriages resulting from their unsafe working conditions, the workers complained.

The company has yet to issue any statement on the strike as well as on the attack on its workers.

The striking workers vowed to continue with their strike despite the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Si Ka Lito, lider manggagawa sa pantalan

Si Ka Lito Luces, 59 taong gulang at isa sa mga haligi ng kilusang paggawa sa pier sa North Harbor sa Maynila. Simula 1995 ay siya na ang tagapangulo ng unyon (PAMBATO-LAND-KMU) na nangunguna sa kanilang mga laban para sa karapatan at kagalingan.

Sa kabila nang matinding tanggalan dulot ng kontratwalisasyon sa mga manggagawa sa pier, patuloy silang nakikibaka para labanan ito.

Hiling din nila na maitaas pa ang kanilang sahod. Ang kasalukuyan na P537 kada araw ito ay katumbas lamang na halos P400 ayon kay Ka Lito.

Natapos man ang araw ng manggagawa noong Mayo 1., sigaw nila sa gubyerno ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na itaas ang sahod sa buong bansa at wakasan ang anumang porma ng kontraktwaliasyon. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)