Thursday, October 4, 2018

DOLE Usec could have helped resolve biggest strike yet--union

Fired DOLE Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod found an ally in the workers of the biggest strikebound factory to date. The Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (PMFTCLU-NAFLU) declared that Maglunsod could have helped resolve the labor dispute at the leading cigarette firm. Maglunsod was dismissed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday for the series of strikes that have broken out in the last few months.

“Duterte has nobody to blame but himself since his broken promises of ending endo, abolishing regional wages and jailing errant employers are the reasons why workers are launching strikes. Maglunsod has done a good job of trying to resolve the labor disputes. His only sin is making sure that workers are protected as mandated by the Labor Code and Constitution,” averred Rene Magtubo, chair of Partido Manggagawa and former union president of PMFTC.

The week-long strike at the Marikina and Vigan, Ilocos Sur factories of the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco remains pending as the mediation called by the DOLE-NCMB last Monday ended without any agreement. Management refused the union demand that retrenched workers be reinstated and the mass layoff be reviewed. Another mediation is set on October 10.

“If Usec Joemag were still around, we would definite seek his intervention. Too bad he was a victim of the hunt for Red October, which is really a fairy tale spun by the government to divert attention from the sufferings of the workers and the poor due to inflation, TRAIN and the rice shortage,” declared Rey Almendras, PMFTCLU president.

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. Picketlines have also been set up in the Vigan, Ilocos Sur redrying plant.

“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:

October 4, 2018

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