“[Article 280 of the] Labor Code clearly states that we should be regular employees from Day 1 because the work we’re doing is necessary and desirable to Monde Nissin.”
By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna – Workers of the Monde Nissin Corporation staged a strike early this morning, August 6, to protest their continuing status as contractual employees, and what they called as the company’s attempts at union-busting.
The strike, which started at 4:30 a.m., ended almost nine hours later after management agreed to negotiate with the union regarding the latter’s demand for contractualization. The local government of Santa Rosa and the Department of Labor and Employment stepped in to mediate negotiations between management and Monde Nissin Labor Association – LIGA (MNL-LIGA).
Luis Dela Paz, MNLA-LIGA spokesperson, considers the day’s actions to be a victory.
“We have been fighting for our rights for three years now since we first formed our association,” he said in Filipino. “Today was a landmark decision because finally, the capitalists have agreed to engage us in legal negotiation.”
The striking workers would go back to work and no charges would be filed. A round of negotiations has been set next Tuesday.
Fight for regularization
Monde Nissin Labor Association – LIGA (MNLA-LIGA) is an association formed by contractual workers of the company in 2016 to register their complaint against their contractual work arrangement. At present, MNLA-LIGA has 176 members, while Monde Nissin Corporation has 640 contractual employees across 21 manpower agencies, with lengths of service ranging from one to 13 years.
MNLA-LIGA maintained that the workers should be considered as regular employees of Monde Nissin Corporation. “[Article 280 of the] Labor Code clearly states that we should be regular employees from Day 1 because the work we’re doing is necessary and desirable to Monde Nissin,” said Dela Paz.
The strike was in response to the recent dismissal of MNLA-LIGA members. A week ago, five members of MNLA-LIGA were terminated by the company. The following day, four more were not allowed to enter the company premises, without any notices of termination for the said workers.
Management told the workers that the two agencies’ contracts were supposedly terminated.
“Instead of removing the workers, they’re removing the agency outright,” Dela Paz told Bulatlat.
Upon investigation by the workers, however, Monde Nissin has not submitted Cessations of Contract with the DoLE.
Earlier, in July 2018, management dismissed 103 workers from across five agencies after members of the association formed a protest camp outside the company’s premises. Dela Paz called Monde Nissin’s actions “plain union-busting.”
Dela Paz said that over the years, management actively worked against regularization. He said that in two DoLE inspections in June 2017and in December 2017, inspectors were not allowed to see the actual production line. Instead, the inspectors were led to the Human Resource Office and were allowed to interview individuals selected by management.
The strike by Monde Nissin workers is the third strike in Laguna over the course of two months, following strikes in Pepmaco in Calamba (June 24) and NutriAsia Cabuyao (July 6).
By 12:30 p.m., Monde Nissin workers marched from the plant toward the national highway, where they launched a short program before going to Cabuyao City, Laguna to join the striking workers of NutriAsia.
Dela Paz said that the struggle of Monde Nissin workers is tied to the wider struggle of workers nationwide. “Whether it’s here in Santa Rosa, or Cabuyao, or Calamba, the basic problems are the same. And because of that, the solution also remains the same – workers’ unity and collective action.”
The workers’ struggle in Pepmaco continues as their strike reaches two months. NutriAsia workers, meanwhile, have been camping outside the City Hall for one month now, calling out Cabuyao City Mayor Mel Gecolea for failing to engage them in dialogue, and demanding the release of 17 of their fellow workers currently jailed on trumped-up charges of arson, illegal assembly, destruction of property, and grave misconduct.
Workers’ spirits remain high. A solidarity night was recently held for the Pepmaco workers in Quezon City, while the NutriAsia workers are “celebrating” their first “monthsary” in the picket line with a cultural night.
Similarly, Dela Paz, and the Monde Nissin workers, remain hopeful.
“Today was an initial victory, but the fight doesn’t end here. We’re confident that the negotiations would be fruitful and we would be regularized,” he said. “But if it doesn’t, then we’re prepared to stage another strike, and another, until we claim our rights.”
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