Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cigarette firm lost P1B in production due to strike--union

Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. has lost some P1 billion in production due to a week-long strike, according to the union. The Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (PMFTCLU-NAFLU) has been on strike since September 28 and has maintained picketlines at the factories in Parang, Marikina and Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

“We estimate that in every shift, some P60 million worth of cigarettes have not been produced as scheduled. In three shifts per day, that is a total of P180 million. In the eight lost production days since the start of the strike (not counting Sunday which a rest day), that is about P1.44 billion,” declared Rey Almendras, PMFTCLU president.

In contrast, NutriAsia announced in July that it had lost P200 million in income in the course of one month due to the strike at its Marilao plant.

“Management has nobody to blame but itself. We patiently participated in mediation meetings for a whole month between the filing of notice of strike and the actual start of the strike. But management took a hardline position of refusing to consider the union demand that retrenched workers be reinstated and the mass layoff be put in review,” stated Almendras.

He added that “We remind management about occupational safety protocols and call on them to stop forcing untrained scabs from operating machines. Likewise, the rules prohibit companies from hiring contractuals as striker replacements during disputes.”

Workers unrest is rising with a series of labor strikes in recent months and the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco strike is the biggest yet. The Marikina factory of the leading cigarette firm remains paralyzed since workers walked off the job in the middle of the shift on Friday last week.

“If the company wants to resume operations then management must reinstate the workers terminated due to the sudden closure of the Vigan redrying plant and the mass layoff at the Marikina factory,” reiterated Almendras.

In August the Lucio Tan Group announced a P3.63 billion total income for the first quarter of this year. Some P2.35B or 65% of the total income of the Lucio Tan Group came from its tobacco business. “The Constitution mandates that workers receive their fair share of the fruits of production. But at PMFTC, retrenchment was the company’s reward for increased labor productivity and workers meeting key performance indicators,” argued Almendras.

PMFTCLU is alleging unfair labor practice over the closure and retrenchment. The union slammed the bad faith and deceit attending the so-called right-sizing plan of management. The group believes that union busting is the real agenda as the non-union sister factory in Sto. Tomas, Batangas just regularized 100 contractual employees. In contrast, the Marikina and Vigan plants are both unionized factories. Moreover, the Vigan plant is now being operated by a new entity but with contractual workers.

Photos of the strike can be accessed at PMFTCLU’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zpipsamonte/

October 9, 2018

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