Anakpawis solon backs workers’ strike

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Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis Party List.

ANAKPAWIS Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao lauded workers of NutriAsia plant in Marilao, Bulacan for staging a strike to protest against the company’s illegal labor contractualization, illegal dismissal and other anti-labor practices.

Workers under Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia Inc. (NMNAI) have been on strike since June 2 after the NutriAsia management dismissed five of its leaders and another 50 workers who protested against the dismissal.

NMNAI also protested the decades-long illegal practice of contractualization, where a minority 100 of 1,400 total workforce are regularized, and they were required to do 12-hour duty, but overtime work was irregularly compensated.

“This is a serious violation of the labor laws, the labor department should conclude what it started, assert the execution of its order for the workers to be regularized, and immediately aid the striking workers against attempted repression, even involving the local police,” the lawmaker also said.

On February 28, the Department of Labor and Employment ordered the regularization of 914 NutriAsia workers as Nurti-Asia was exercising full authority over them in the performance of their assigned jobs and the contractor that provided the said workers lack
substantial capital as evidenced by the employees’ use of the principal’s equipment and tools in performing their outsourced services.

The DOLE also found violations on occupational safety and health standards and illegal deduction for the workers’ uniform and underpayment of basic wages and other wage-related benefits.

“If this company could afford throwing away money for mass advertising, paying famous celebrities as endorsers, it is capable of at least following the labor laws, regularizing workers and even wage hikes,” Casilao said.

Casilao also warned the Bulacan police against acting like “private army” for NutriAsia and abusing the striking workers who are only asserting the DOLE order.

About 50 elements of the Bulacan police and SWAT arrived at the site and are now stationed inside the plant’s compound violating the 50-meter distance from the picketline, according to Casilao. He said that is a clear violation of the Guidelines in the Conduct of PNP Personnel, Private Security Guards and Company Guard Forces During Strikes, Lockouts, and Labor Disputes in General, issued by DOLE and the National Police Commission (NPC).

Casilao, a labor leader in Davao City and author of the House Bill No. 556 Anti-Contractualization Bill and HB 7787 or the P750 National Minimum Wage Bill, vowed to push for a congressional inquiry on the plight of NutriAsia workers.

“Nutriasia workers, just like the rest of the Filipino workers, should rely on their collective and militant action, not only to defend against dismissals but also to fight for what is due to them. Each workers’ action is for social justice, equity and democracy, we should never tolerate exploitative and oppressive practices by the rich, that treat poor Filipinos like slaves, we call on the people to break out from this system and support the strike of NutriAsia workers,” Casilao said.

NutriAsia is owned by Filipino-Chinese businessman Joselito Campos. It is the biggest producer of liquid condiments in the Philippines.

In 2015, the company recorded at least P16.8 billion ($320 million) in total assets, and distributes and sells products in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Pacific, and North America. It is known for the products Datu Puti, UFC, Papa, Mang Tomas, Jufran, Golden Fiesta, and Happy Fiesta.

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