DAVAO CITY – National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said the dismissed workers of the Japanese-owned fruit company here were left with no choice but to fight and put up the strike which paralyzed the company’s operation on May 25.

“We cannot emphasize this point enough in response to Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte’s claim that it was (KMU) which instigated workers to hold a strike and subsequently caused the company’s closure,” Elmer Labog, KMU national chairperson said in a statement on Wednesday, June 22.

“Don’t look at KMU, look at Nakashin’s violations of workers’ rights,” he said.

Labog said Nakashin Davao International refused to recognize long-term contractual workers as regular workers, which has violated the workers’ rights to a living wage, security of tenure and free exercise of trade-union rights.

Labog also claimed that the dismissal of the 75 workers who refused to sign quitclaim waivers was illegal.

“It violates workers’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and to organize,” he said.

Nakashin Davao International is a frozen food manufacturing and export company which exports to Japan, Europe and other countries.

It has contracted two agencies – Workstation and DBS Advance Concept for its more than 300 workers.

But the company decided not to renew its contract with the said agencies after workers complained of salary delays, non-remittance of benefits, non-payment of loans and service incentive leave.

Meanwhile, before the change of agencies, the company asked the workers to sign “a blank waiver, quitclaim, and to write a resignation letter in the exchange of P1, 000.”

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In a phone interview with Davao Today on Wednesday, June 22, Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU in Southern Mindanao said more than 100 of the 240 workers who signed were “newly-hired” and were on an on-call basis depending on the demand for work.

“Paghinay ang manga dili sa sila tawagan, pag kusog ayha sila tawagan (If the harvest of mangoes is scant they will not be called to work, but if it is abundant they will be asked to report),” Olalo said.

“The other half of the 240 were forced to sign for fear of losing their jobs,” he said.

Olalo also claimed that the company is guilty of labor-only contracting.

‘KMU responsible for closure’

The company reported that they have incurred P140 million losses since the protest of the dismissed workers.

On June 9, Vice Mayor Duterte posted a statement on his Facebook page that 240 employees who did not join the protest sought his assistance because the company was about to close down.

“This is a substantial blow to the business environment in our city and produces serious effects to the employees and their families. I tried to convince Nakashin and its lawyers to reconsider, but they stood firm in their decision saying that the company has heavily lost income and valued clients due to this labor problem,” Duterte said.

He said: “This was what I was trying to prevent which KMU gave little care about. I am outraged by the outcome and I hold KMU responsible for this closure.”

Duterte even challenged labor leaders Romualdo “Dodong” Basilio and incoming labor undersecretary Joel Maglunsod to organize jobs fair for the employees affected by the shutdown of the company.

Pulong tells dad: reconsider Maglunsod’s appointment

During his oath-taking on Monday, June 20, Duterte said he asked his father President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the appointment of Maglunsod.

“I already texted Bong Go to ask President Rody to reconsider the appointment of Jomag ( Maglunsod) as the undersecretary of labor,” he said, referring to his father’s executive assistant, Christopher Lawrence Go.

Maglunsod’s big role

But KMU said they disagree with Duterte’s statement and added that Maglunsod’s appointment “is essential in ensuring that the incoming Duterte government’s promise of change is realized in the labor department.”

“His appointment would ensure that the DOLE would serve the interests of Filipino workers. It would signal a departure from the previous administration’s thrust of neglecting and disrespecting workers’ rights and welfare to boost capitalists’ profits,” Labog said.

Win-win solution

He said if the Nakashin management had agreed to meet the workers’ just, legitimate and doable demands, they would not have been pushed to hold a strike.

“Nakashin is more than capable of regularizing its workers who have been employed for four to nine years doing jobs that are deemed desirable and necessary to the company’s operations,” he said.

Labog added that they hope a dialogue between the workers of Nakashin and the vice mayor will have a resolution favorable both to the workers and the Nakashin management. (davaotoday.com)

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