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https://www.rappler.

com/nation/205166-reason-nutriasia-workers-on-strike

BULACAN, Philippines – All they wanted was to be hired in regular positions.

Jornell Quiza, 28, was hired by contractor B-Mirk Enterprise sometime in 2010 to work
for condiments company NutriAsia in Marilao, Bulacan. NutriAsia is the manufacturer of
popular condiments, such as Datu Puti vinegar, Mang Tomas sauce, and UFC ketchup.

Throughout the years, he had been assigned to different tasks. He started as a bottle
feeder then came to be a machine operator for popular gravy sauce Mang Tomas. After
figuring in an accident and getting ill, he was eventually moved to mixing Datu Puti soy
sauce.

The work was hard but he had no other choice. For P380 a day, Quiza had to work
overtime so he could make ends meet.

"Kahit uniform o protective gear, kami ang nagbabayad. Sabi, ire-reimburse daw, pero
hindi naman lahat [nabibigyan]. Minsan, mahigit 12 hours sa isang araw kami
nagtatrabaho para lang mapagkasya 'yung sweldo namin," he said.

(Even uniforms or protective gear, we pay for it. They said they will reimburse, but not
all receive reimbursement. Sometimes, we work more than 12 hours a day so that we
have enough salary.)

He said he received no salary adjustments in his 7 years with NutriAsia as an


outsourced worker.

Quiza's experience was not an isolated case. It was the norm for more than a thousand
outsourced workers, mostly hired through contracting agencies.

When they created a union among B-Mirk employees doing outsourced jobs in
NutriAsia in April, officers were laid off.

The workers say they were suspected as union members when they held a noise
barrage during a work day – they clapped for around 15 minutes. Suspected members,
they added, were "threatened" with suspensions.

In June, they decided they couldn't take it anymore. And so they went to the streets to
hold a strike.

Violence
Jessie Gerola, president of Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia Inc, led 200
people composed of workers and supporters, in holding a picket line across the factory
in Marilao in June 4.

The act forced NutriAsia to suspend operations, as the picket barred entry to the
plant. (READ: PH still among world's 'worst' countries to work in – report)

The NutriAsia management sought for a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a
Regional Trial Court in Bulacan, and succeeded in getting not only one but two TROs.

Come Thursday, June 14, hundreds of policemen and security personnel guarded the
gate of NutriAsia to enforce the said TROs. Those who joined the picket line were
forced to leave.

DOLE orders NutriAsia to regularize 80 workers


(UPDATED) NutriAsia says it will file an appeal before Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

Stories

[OPINION] NutriAsia skirts the law to oppress workers, hide its greed
NutriAsia, Inc maintains that the strikers are not their contractual employees but are regular and
permanent employees of their contractors. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

NutriAsia protesters violently dispersed despite regularization talks


(UPDATED) The dispersal occurs at the picket line of the group across from NutriAsia's Marilao plant in
Bulacan

But when a woman worker tried taking a video with her phone, a policeman shoved her
arm to stop her from recording. Violence ensued.
"Sila nag-umpisang tanggalin ang mga kubol namin. Dahil kokonti lang kami sa picket
namin noon, pinilit kami i-disperse palabas. Tinulak kami sa batikwasan,"Gerola told
Rappler.

(They started to remove our makeshift camps. Because there were few of us in the
picket line at that time, they dispersed us by forcing us out. They pushed us to the
boundary.)

'Like animals'

Quiza was also part of the picket line that Thursday afternoon. He and protesters laid to
the ground, hoping that the police would not hit them.

"Wala naman kaming mga armas panlaban, kaya dumapa na lang kami," Quiza said.
(We don't have arms for fighting, that's why we laid down to the ground.)

But instead of exercising restraint, Quiza said that the police surrounded them and went
on to beat them.

"Gusto kong tumakas, gusto kong umalis para hindi ako mapalo sana. Lumusob [sila]
tapos pinaghahampas ako nang pinaghahampas," he said. (I wanted to escape, I
wanted to leave so I won't be hit. But they came over me and continuously hit me.)
REFUGE. NutriAsia workers were taken in by the Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Marilao, Bulacan.

Junel Padaylap, Quiza's co-worker, received a heavy beating as well.

"Hindi sila tumitigil. Hanggang sa may tao doon na nakahiga, papaluin nila yun nang
papaluin," Padaylap said. (They didn't stop. As long as there was someone lying there,
they will continue to hit them.)

The only way that made the police stop was when they acted as if they were dead. And
then, they ran away.

"Nagpapatay patayan [na lang] kami. Kapag di kami umalis doon, dadalhin kami sa
presinto tapos kakasuhan pa kami," he added. (We played dead. If we didn't leave, they
will bring us to the precinct and file charges against us.)

Seventeen people, workers and supporters included, were detained at Meycauayan City
and Marilao police stations after the dispersal. A minor, who was part of the leftist group
supporters, was even among those detained.

But the police downplayed the incident, saying it was merely a "confrontation." They
also blamed urban poor group Kadamay for allegedly instigating the violence.

Heavily guarded

A day after the violent dispersal, NutriAsia appeared to be heavily guarded still.

Several policemen and security personnel were at the gate of the condiments factory,
refusing entry to anyone but authorized vehicles and people who live within the
compound.
GUARDED. Police (not in photo) and security personnel man the entrance of NutriAsia factory in Marilao.

NutriAsia management, in a statement, denied that it was engaging in illegal labor


practices. They said they "ensure that B-Mirk group provides all mandated benefits to its
regular employees."

"For about two weeks, they (workers) managed to prohibit entry to and exit from the
plant, which not only completely paralyzed operations but also disrupted the livelihood
of fellow workers," the company added.

In an interview with Rappler, the Department of Labor and Employment


(DOLE) denounced the violence on Thursday, as well as the interference by the police
and the RTC on the dispute.

Back in February, DOLE had ordered NutriAsia to place over 900 workers in permanent
positions. It found that NutriAsia's contractors were engaging in labor-only contracting
practices.

Moreover, DOLE said that NutriAsia was found violating labor laws and general labor
standards.

"Ang gusto lang namin, pakinggan nila kami. Bina-balewala 'yung sakripisyo namin, 'di
nila kinikilala na kami ang gumagawa ng produkto nila," Quiza said. (What we want is
for them to hear us. They disregard our sacrifices, and they don't acknowledge that it is
us who make their products.)– Rappler.com

Jane Bautista is a Rappler intern. She studies journalism at the University of the
Philippines Diliman.

https://www.rappler.com/nation/205141-nutriasia-workers-strike-violent-dispersal-
dole?fbclid=IwAR23n7k2O9Hx_2-
adHKgevNIO15nittG7dqxHI8RdqX5wvO7lMojS14vzI8

Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod says the right of workers to hold a strike should be
respected, as workers complain police treated them 'like animals'

Aika Rey
@reyaika
Published 5:45 PM, June 17, 2018
Updated 6:35 PM, June 20, 2018

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BLOCKED. Security is tightened at the gate of the Marilao factory of condiments giant NutriAsia in
Bulacan on June 15, 2018. Photo by Jane Bautista/Rappler

BULACAN, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) condemned the
violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers who went on strike in Marilao, Bulacan.

NutriAsia is the manufacturer of popular condiments such as Datu Puti vinegar, Mang Tomas
sauce, and UFC ketchup.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said the local police
and the court must uphold the resolution mandating that all labor disputes should be under
DOLE.

"'Pag labor disputes, ang may jurisdiction diyan, DOLE. Kung sa question ng legality, ang may
jurisdiction diyan, 'yung National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)," Maglunsod told
Rappler.

(If there are labor disputes, DOLE has jurisdiction over those. If it's a question of legality, the
National Labor Relations Commission has jurisdiction over it.)

A regional trial court in Bulacan had issued two temporary restraining orders (TROs) against the
strike earlier in June. Police then dispersed workers assembled outside the factory last Thursday,
June 14, for violating the TRO.
Maglunsod said the workers went through the right process, and were merely exercising their
right to hold a strike.

"Unang-una, natural karapatan ng manggagawa 'yan – lalo na kung tatanggalan mo ng


trabaho, tatanggalan ng boses. Saan sila pupunta?" he told Rappler.

(First of all, it's a natural right of the workers, especially if you'll be firing them, preventing them
from speaking out. Where will they go?)

Maglunsod said this should be respected by the court and NutriAsia management.

"Kausap ko 'yung pulis na hayaan sila mag-rally sa harap ng NutriAsia basta hindi nila i-block
'yung entrance at exit ng pabrika.... Sabi ko, 'Hayaan lang muna. Hindi hulihin. Hindi puwede
'yun,'" the labor undersecretary said.

(I talked to the police to let the workers stage a rally in front of NutriAsia as long as they don't
block the entrance and the exit of the factory.... I told the police, "Let them be. Don't arrest them.
That cannot be.")

He said DOLE will be writing to the court and the police, reminding them to uphold the
resolution that gives the department jurisdiction over labor disputes.

Violent dispersal

On Thursday, NutriAsia workers sustained injuries from the violent dispersal. Seventeen were
detained and were asked to pay bail of P15,000 each.

Union president Jassia Gerola slammed the detention of the workers, saying that they were
peacefully camping in their picket line when the police started to disperse them. (READ: PH still
among world's 'worst' countries to work in – report)

Other Stories

Duterte fires labor undersecretary Joel Maglunsod


Maglunsod is the latest Leftist appointee to exit the Duterte administration
Senators question 'core functions' of PLDT, NutriAsia amid labor dispute
Workers hired by contractors of NutriAsia and PLDT argue that they perform functions that are 'core' to
the company

[OPINION] NutriAsia skirts the law to oppress workers, hide its greed
NutriAsia, Inc maintains that the strikers are not their contractual employees but are regular and
permanent employees of their contractors. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

"Sila nag-umpisang tanggalin ang mga kubol namin. Dahil kokonti lang kami sa picket namin
noon, pinilit kami i-disperse palabas. Tinulak kami sa batikwasan,"Gerola told Rappler.

(They started to remove our makeshift camps. Because there were few of us in the picket line at
that time, they dispersed us by forcing us out. They pushed us to the boundary.)

According to Gerola, the violence started when a union member tried taking a video of the
incident, and a policeman shoved the worker's arm to stop her from recording.

"Nagkatulakan, saka nag-umpisa na silang magpapalo ng magpapalo. Walang pakundangan,


parang mga hayop ang mga tao. Wala ni isa sa 'min ang may armas panlaban," he said.

(Jostling happened, then they started hitting us. Without any respect, we were treated like
animals. We did not have any weapons to fight back.)

The police downplayed the incident, saying it was merely a "confrontation." They also blamed
urban poor group Kadamay for allegedly instigating the violence.
INJURED. Jornell Quiza (L), Rudy Bernabe (C), Roger Tandaguen (R) were among the injured NutriAsia
workers during the violent dispersal on June 14, 2018. Photo by Jane Bautista/Rappler

Labor-only contracting

Back in February, DOLE had ordered NutriAsia to place over 900 workers in permanent
positions.

The labor department found that NutriAsia's contractors Alternative Network Resources
Unlimited Multipurpose Cooperative, Serbiz Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and B-Mirk Enterprises
Corporation were engaging in labor-only contracting practices.

"The order cited a number of violations including the exercise by the principal (NutriAsia) of full
authority over the deployed workers in the performance of their assigned jobs," DOLE said in an
earlier statement.

DOLE added that there was lack of substantial capital on the part of the contractors, "as
evidenced by the employees' use of the principal's equipment and tools in performing their
outsourced services."
NutriAsia was also found violating labor laws and general labor standards. (WATCH: On Labor
Day, thousands of workers protest vs endo EO)

According to Gerola, most workers hired by the contractors were under contractual schemes.
Gerola, a machine operator, was hired by B-Mirk and had been serving NutriAsia for more than
a decade as a contractual employee.

The workers had formed a union following the compliance order issued by DOLE. Gerola
accused NutriAsia of union busting, as he and other union officers were laid off soon after.

Maglunsod said the DOLE regional office would call for an exit conference to discuss
NutriAsia's appeal.

'We don't practice contractualization'

In a statement on Saturday, June 16, the condiments giant denied it was engaging in illegal labor
practices.

"The company's engagement with B-Mirk group as a provider is in line with all legal
requirements necessary for a legitimate contracting agreement. In addition, the company also
ensures that B-Mirk group provides all mandated benefits to its regular employees," NutriAsia
said.

"For about two weeks, they (workers) managed to prohibit entry to and exit from the plant,
which not only completely paralyzed operations but also disrupted the livelihood of fellow
workers," the company added.

NutriAsia also called on the public to "observe restraint" when commenting on the issue.

"We thus call on the public to observe restraint in issuing unfounded statements in the interest of
upholding the law and in promoting the spirit of truth and fairness," said the company.

DOLE issued Department Order (DO) No. 174 in March 2017, setting stricter guidelines for
contractualization. Under the order, manpower agencies – not the main employers – are ordered
to regularize their workers. (READ: Keeping 'endo' alive: DOLE's Department Order No. 174)

In April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered DOLE to submit a list of companies engaged in
contractualization. The labor department found that 767 companies were engaged in labor-only
contracting. – Rappler.com