New Trade Secretary Has Blood In His Hands,
Labor unions in Laguna
are opposing the confirmation of new Trade and Industry Secretary Juan B.
Santos by the Commission on Appointments. In a sworn statement, they want
Santos to account for the death of at least 10 workers at Nestle which he
headed in 1987-2003.
By Dennis Espada
CALAMBA CITY --
Militant labor groups here are sporting their thumbs down as a sign of
protest against the appointment of Juan B. Santos as the new secretary of
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
They want Santos to account for the “violent dispersals” of strikes at the
Nestle Philippines’ Cabuyao factory which resulted in the death of at
least 10 workers and injuries to several others.
The new trade and
industry secretary served as president and chief executive officer of
Nestle Philippines, Inc. (NPI) from 1987 to 2003 and was commended in 1994
as "Management Man of the Year" by the Management Association of the
In a joint affidavit
filed last March before the Commission on Appointments (CoA) by the
officers of Union of Filipino Employees-Drug, Food Allied Workers-Kilusang
Mayo Uno (UFE-DFA-KMU), labor leaders argued that with Santos' record as
president and CEO of NPI and in connection with the bloody dispersals at
the company's Cabuyao factory picketline, he "does not deserve to be
appointed" to the DTI post.
The CoA, chaired by Senate President Franklin Drilon, has yet to confirm
the appointment of Santos, who assumed the post last February 15.
In 2003, the Court of Appeals in 2003 ruled as valid the Nestle workers'
stand in holding that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provision
on retirement benefits is a negotiable item. The Supreme Court had
previously upheld the unions’ position in 1991.
Apparently, Nestle ignored the court rulings thus precipitating a series
of strikes during the period and until today.
To date, the strikers
have experienced three violent
dispersals in their picketline enforced by security guards, police and the
military. As a reprisal to the strikes, the management
filed criminal cases against 200 workers which led to the arrest of 28
strikers, with three of them detained. At least 10 workers have died in
various strike periods, union leaders said.
In their March statement, the Nestle workers said that in 1987 the company
management sent one of its ten-wheeler trucks to ram the workers’
picketline in Cabuyao. The workers were able to evade the attack but a new
medical graduate and two by-standers were killed.
Then on Jan. 20, 1989,
the president of the worker's union, Meliton Roxas, was shot dead in
cold-blood in front of the factory gate. Workers believe that the NPI
management, led by Santos, was responsible for the killing.
The union officers also charged Santos of bankrolling the expenses of
Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas
for her chauffeur's service from Geneva,
to Italy and back on June 15 to 16, 2002. The company had a case then
pending before the DoLE.
The Nestle workers also said that with Santos at the helm of NPI, Nestle
employees began to lose their right to security of tenure through the
implementation of subcontracting, outsourcing, retrenchment and redundancy
Noel Alemania, spokesperson of the Cabuyao Workers' Alliance (CAWAL) and
one of the oppositors, said that the management has hired more than 20
co-packers while 5,400 contractual workers have taken over the functions
of regular employees in the company.
"Because they're hired for only five months, contractual workers lack the
expertise and dedication to produce high quality products," Alemania told
Bulatlat. "The co-packing scheme clearly violates the Labor Code
which prohibits labor-only contracting
One co-packer firm -- Antonina Industrial Corporation
located in Santa Rosa, Laguna -- is long engaged in the repacking of
instant coffee, noodles, seasoning and iced tea products.
Alemania underscored that labor must oppose the LOC scheme because it
threatens workers’ security of tenure and also pave the way for the
repression of trade unionism in the country.
"Kung naisagawa ni Santos ang LOC kahit siya'y nasa private sector pa
nang di man lang kinokondena o iwinawasto ng DOLE at gobyerno, lalo na
ngayong siya'y secretary ng DTI kung saan malaya niya itong maipapatupad
sa lahat ng mga kumpanya" (If Santos was able to enforce LOC while in
the private sector without the DoLE and government condemning or
rectifying it, how much more now that he is the DTI secretary and is free
to implement the scheme in all companies), Alemania said. Bulatlat
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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