Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tobacco workers urged to fight mass layoff

Press Release
January 20, 2015

The labor party Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the workers of cigarette giant Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) to contest the legality of the retrenchment of almost half of the workforce at one of its plant even as it lambasted the mass layoff as “objectionable and unnecessary.”

PM announced that it is ready to support PMFTC workers who are aggrieved by the mass firing as it contended that the company has numerous ways of coping with declining sales short of sacrificing workers’ jobs.

News reports last week cited that PMFTC will fire 640 workers in its Marikina plant due to a 6% drop in market share that it lost to upstart Mighty Corp. “The numbers speak for themselves. Despite the drop in sales, PMFTC is undeniably profitable and continues to enjoy monopoly advantage, with 70% control over the cigarette market,” argued Renato Magtubo, PM chair and past union president of the erstwhile Fortune Tobacco Corp.

PM believes that the “hidden agenda” behind the mass layoff is to weaken if not bust the union. Magtubo averred that “PMFTC’s selection of employees to be terminated did not follow a fair and reasonable criterion as all of those affected workers in the unionized Marikina factory and none were in unorganized Batangas plant.”

He added “It is not done in good faith. The retrenchment should have been tabled by management during the negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement that was concluded just last December. And so the mass layoff a few weeks after came as a complete surprise to the clueless workers.”

Magtubo insisted that “The 1,000 unaffected workers in Marikina cannot sleep soundly as a further 10% drop in PMFTC’s market share would mean the termination of all the remaining positions, if we follow management’s twisted retrenchment logic.”

Finally the group criticized the PMFTC union and its labor federation for “surrendering to the mass layoff without even putting up a fight.” Magtubo explained that “The union PMFTCLU-NAFLU-BMP simply capitulated and then handcuffed itself by agreeing to management’s demand that it withhold assistance to workers who will contest the mass layoff.”

“Even assuming the company’s assertions are correct, PMFTC stands to lose some revenue but it will indisputably remain profitable and a virtual monopoly. The 640 workers however stand to lose their regular livelihood with not much hope in this jobless growth economy,” Magtubo emphasized.

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