Bittersweet Taste of Worker Life in PepsiCo

For the past nine years, Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc. has been closing down its warehouses, in the process, removing workers from their jobs. The company claims it is a “money-saving” scheme. But an interview with the union president shows that the company has in fact been expanding.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
LABOR WATCH
Vol. VIII, No. 11, April 20-26, 2008

TAGUIG CITY — The trucks were silent when I went there. There were no forklifts, moving back and forth to fetch crates of the favorite carbonated drinks, bearing the logo resembling the “yin and yang.”

“The warehouse has been transferred to Muntinupa City. All that remains here is this old building,” a worker, who refused to be identified, said.

According to him, the closure of the Malabon and Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI)-Taguig warehouses were part of the new “money-saving” scheme of the Pepsi cola management. The beverage giant said it was losing money due to competition.

However, the other workers see it otherwise. It was more of “profit-preserving” while sacrificing the regular status of its workers.

Constructive dismissal

Since the year 2000, nine warehouses of Pepsi have ceased operations. Warehouses in Tayuman in Manila, Binangonan in Rizal province, and Pila in Laguna, had stopped operations in 2000; Marilao, Bulacan, in 2002; Balayan, Batangas in 2003; Sta. Mesa, Manila, Pasig and Noveleta, Cavite in 2006; and last year, the Deparo, Novaliches, Quezon City, ceased its operations.

“These closures have resulted in the resignation of hundreds of workers for the management wanted them to relocate for work, and the work nature has been changed,” Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Labor Union (PCLU) president Armando Arroyo explained in an interview.

“We call this scheme as constructive dismissal because the management need not fire the workers, but the workers have decided, voluntarily, to resign,” Arroyo added.

As remuneration, the workers who resigned were given 1.5 percent or equivalent of one and a half months’ salary, multiplied to the number of years of service.

Besides the voluntary retirement program (VRP) or the constructive dismissal scheme, the management has devised other means to remove its workers from their jobs.

Some of the workers have decided to be relocated to other sales offices or warehouses, thus retaining their status as regular employees, but the said relocation of labor force would augment the existing number of workers in the receiving plant, and in the end, a surplus in the workforce.

“If there is a surplus in the workforce, then, there is a need to retrench,” said Arroyo, referring to the “compulsory retrenchment program.”

Not really losing money

Arroyo revealed that there has been an on-going expansion in the plant, now located in Cabuyao, Laguna. It is part of the Project Genesis devised by the company to boost its operations and increase its sales.

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