For all its claims of trying to make society better and healthier by providing it with quality medicines, milk and other products, Wyeth-Pfizer Philippines is making its own workers ill because of its countless anti-labor acts.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — For all its claims of trying to make society better and healthier by providing it with quality medicines, milk and other products, Wyeth-Pfizer Philippines is making its own workers ill because of its countless anti-labor acts.
The Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU-DFA-KMU) has been up in arms against the pharmaceutical giant’s continuing harassment and intimidation against its ranks as the management ignores workers’ justified demands for increased wages, retirement and separation pay.
Negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and the Wyeth-Pfizer management started on July 2010. A deadlock on the negotiations was declared the following November , however, when the management continued with what the workers called “bargaining in bad faith.”
According to union president Dennis Galido, on the last day of the negotiations, the management suddenly refused to honor provisions that both parties had previously agreed on . The management also reportedly threatened the union that those provisions would be completely withdrawn or changed if the union is not amenable to settling the remaining items on the agenda, namely the issue of retirement and redundancy packages.
“The management has already gotten a compromise on the union’s wage increase demand. The wage hike demand for a three year employment contract represents only 10 percent of the current salary, but it was still trimmed down by another 65 percent because of the management’s hardline position,” he said.
Following the deadlock, workers had been holding picket-protests twice weekly in front of Wyeth Philippines’ main office in Makati. The management then began its offensive.
“In informal talks with small groups of workers, the management encouraged workers to accept its offer while discrediting the union leadership. The management also slapped complaints against workers, charging more than a hundred union members of ‘loitering’ and ‘malingering’ without presenting proof,’ Galido said.
According to Galido, management officials also warned workers that if they do not accept the management’s proposals for the meager wage increase, among others, it will take back their retroactive wage payments and other benefits dating back to July 2010. These are all forms of coercion and interference, and it’s against Article 248 of the Labor Code,” he said.
“Our demands are just and we have been bargaining in earnest; we do not deserve to be met with repression and abuse.”
Because of the merger of Wyeth with Pfizer, the company earned almost P3.2 billion ($72 million) in October 2010, higher than the P2.2 billion ( $50 million) it earned during the same period in 2009.
“We stand united in fighting for job security. We want a good retirement package and separation pay and benefits in case the company begins lay-offs because of the merger. There are more 140 retirement age union members who stand to be affected should a redundancy program be implemented. In any case, all this is not just for workers who are up for retirement, for all workers here, they need security and the management should give us our due. We have given our best to this company and this is the least that it can do to repay us,” said Ronald Sarmineto, the union’s auditor.