By JUSTIN UMALI
MANILA – Workers from over 40 factories in Laguna trooped to Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge today, August 26, to commemorate the National Heroes’ Day and call for an end to unfair labor practices prevalent in the province.
Led by Liga ng Manggagawa para sa Regularisasyon (LIGA) – Southern Tagalog, workers from NutriAsia, Monde Nissin Philippines, and Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation (Pepmaco), among others, took part in the Workers’ March protest.
NutriAsia workers reiterated their demand for the release of their 17 colleagues who were arrested following the violent dispersal of their picketline in Cabuyao last July 6. The giant condiments company filed several criminal cases against the workers, including malicious mischief, grave coercion, theft, robbery, arson, serious and slight illegal detention and direct and indirect assault.
Julius Decoreon, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng Abanteng Seksyon ng Anakpawis sa Nutriasia (Kasapina) -Olalia, said the accusations against their fellow workers are baseless and untrue.
“And until the state stops conniving with the capitalist Campos, we will not stop clamoring for their freedom and for our basic rights,” Decoreon said.
He called on the public to continue boycotting all Nutriasia products, which includes Datu Puti, Silver Swan , UFC, Papa, Mang Tomas, Locally, Golden Fiesta, among others.
“Capitalists only listen to capital, and we will hit them where it hurts!” Decoreon said.
The workers of Monde Nissin, meanwhile, are facing a different battle.
Following their successful strike last August 6, negotiations between the union, Monde Nissin Labor (MNLA)-LIGA, and management were supposed to start on August 19. The said negotiations, however, broke down after management not only reneged on its promise to regularize the 172 contractual workers, but fired the latter.
Luis Dela Paz, MNLA-LIGA president, said, “This is a clear lack of respect from the management! We have said this before and we will say this again: Tuloy ang laban! (The fight continues!)”
Pepmaco workers also have the same battlecry after the police and guards dispersed their picketline twice since June 24.
Recently, elements of the Philippine National Police, along with armed guards, dispersed the picket line last August 19, and arrested 18 workers. They were released the next day with no charges filed.
Symptoms of a greater crisis
Mia Antonio, LIGA-ST spokesperson, said that these separate but similar crises are only symptoms of a greater crisis.
“For as long as the Duterte regime looks down on the working class and puts foreign and capitalist interests first, these crises will not stop,” she said. “And for as long as these crises continue, workers will continue to fight and assert their rights.”
She then called on all workers to unite. “Our sharpest weapon is our solidarity! Unite and break the chains of oppression!” she said.