DAVAO CITY– Some 300 workers and their families from the Superstar Coconut Products Inc. held a picket rally in front of the company plant in Barangay Maa on Apr 1 to denounce the company’s bribery, intimidation and harassment. According to the workers, the company is doing all these to force the rank-and-file workers to resign via an early retirement scheme, also in blatant attempt to weaken their union.
Marvin Morales, secretary of the workers’ union, Kahugpungan sa mga Trabahante sa Superstar (KTS), said the management has been enticing workers with P3,500 per year separation pay or an average of P29,000 (gross amount with deductions). About 180 workers are reportedly in the list of the company target for separation payment in the last two weeks.
“Usa kini ka paagi sa pagbungkag sa among unyon, (This is one way of busting our union)” Morales pointed out.
According to Morales, aside from bribery, the company is spreading disinformation such as closing operations on April 10. Yet, the workers said they continue to receive information that the company is getting workers from its factory in Butuan.
“Nganong ginahadlok man nila ang mga trabahante? Asa na ang among mga katungod?” (Why do they fear the workers? Where are our rights?) Morales said.
The workers formed themselves into a union to push for just wages last November and the labor department gave them recognition last March.
“Tungod sa among paningkamot ug pakigbisog, gipatas-an sa management ang sweldo sa among kaubanan sa produksyon, gikan sa P168 ngadto sa P271. Karon, naningkamot pa kami nga mahatag pa ang ubang benepisyo sama sa SSS ug medical, ug pag-undang sa sobrang pagbuhos og lubi nga walay tukmang bayad sa among sweldo, (Toward our efforts to struggle, the management raised our co-workers’ wages, from P165 to P271. Now we are still trying to gain other benefits like SSS and Medical, and put a stop to exploitation,)” Morales said.
To the union’s dismay, “Ang ilang gitubag mao hinoon ang binayranay nga ilang gihimo karun,grabe ang pagpangampanya, dili lang sulod sa planta, kung dili ila pang gibalay-balay ang mga trabahante ug gipanghurat, (The management’s intensified anti-union campaigns and threats not only in the plants but also in the workers’ communities have been their answer,) ” Morales added.
Also, the union alleges that the company is “hiding under the labor law that allows the scheme of contracting and subcontracting to justify their non-payment of due wages to the workers, such as Art. 106 of the Labor Code and the Dept. Order 18-20.”
“Ilang ginasulti nga mga kontraktwal ra kuno kami, usa ka dayag nga pamaagi arun likayan nila ang ilang responsibilidad ngadto sa mga trabahante pero ang tinuod kining mga ahensya nga maoy gipagunit sa mga kontraktwal, mga dummy ra pud sa kumpanya, (They said that we are just contractuals, which is just one of the company’s ways of shirking responsibility to its workers… In truth the agencies that employ contractuals are just dummies of the company,)” Morales said.
The KTS already filed a complaint with the National Conciliation Mediation Board (NCMB) regarding Superstar’s violations of workers’ rights. But the company reportedly did not attend the hearing called for by the NCMB.
The Superstar also denounced the harassments in Friday’s picket rally.
During the activity, a certain person who first identified himself as a member of the media and later, as a police investigator from Talomo Police Station, went to the picket line and started probing the participants.
But when the workers refused to answer any of his questions, he left the picket line and drove away on a police vehicle.#