A New Zealand-based group of trade union and human rights advocates held a protest action today at 2pm at the Nestlé head office at 1 Broadway, Newmarket to express solidarity with Nestlé workers in the Philippines.
Today marks one year of the brutal dispersal of Nestlé workers by elements of the Manila Police District (MPD) in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) main office in Intramuros, Manila.
Nestlé workers in the Philippines under the United Filipino Employees-Drug Food and Allied Industries -Kilusang Mayo Uno (UFE-DFA-KMU) have been on strike since January 14, 2002 for their right to retirement benefits. To this day, the company refuses to include the workers’ retirement benefits in the collective bargaining negotiation despite a Supreme Court ruling the company to negotiate with the workers.
Nestlé workers and supporters in the country held a protest action in front of Nestlé Cabuyao Plant to condemn the business giant for ‘denying justice’ to hundreds of Nestlé workers and their families.
Despite the 1991 and 2006 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines ordering management to include the retirement benefits in collective bargaining agreement, Nestlé deliberately ignored the court’s orders.
Luke Coxon, spokesperson of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS), said, “The strike has both directly and indirectly resulted in the deaths of 23 union members, including union president Diosdado Fortuna, who was assassinated on his way home from the picket line on September 22, 2005, his predecessor Meliton Roxas was also murdered and the current leadership continue to live in fear of their lives.”
The APS said, “We salute the perseverance of Nestlé workers and we support their demands for justice. Even though their struggle has been long and difficult, their determination in fighting for what is right and just, is an inspiration to workers in New Zealand and everywhere. Today we also support protests in the Philippines demanding dismissal of another false murder charge against Nestlé union lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. and others.”
Three months ago Nestlé union lawyer Saladero was unjustly imprisoned on fabricated charges of multiple murder and attempted murder. He and other activists are facing a new trumped-up murder charge barely a week after the court ordered their release on February 6, 2009.
Nestlé was cited in Human Rights Day 2008 as the “Worst Company for Union Organizing” by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) which noted its gross violations of workers’ rights in the Philippines, Colombia, Peru, Russia and Pakistan. (Bulatlat.com)