DAVAO CITY – The word war heats up between the striking workers of a Japanese company here and the city’s vice mayor.
Workers of Nakashin Davao International said they were dismayed over the recent statements of vice mayor elect Paolo “Pulong” Duterte which blamed them for the company’s incurring damages due to undelivered products.
Workers of Nakashin Davao International held a press conference Wednesday, June 1 along with labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno to air their dismay on Duterte’s remark who said that the workers’ strike is a humiliation for the city.
President of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Nakashin (NAMANA), Lester Pillado said that on Monday, May 30, “He (Duterte) scolded us because our strike caused the closure of the company which was only based on what the president of the company told him.”
“There was no proof that the company will really close,” Pillado said.
Pillado said the company is still operating and has not dismissed any worker whom they said will be affected.
During the Monday meeting at the vice mayor’s office, Duterte said that he was told by the company that 280 more workers “might be sacked” due to the possible closure of the company “because of the barricade.”
He added that the company is losing and were asked to pay P60 million to their international clients for a breach of contract.
“They might shut down the company,” Duterte said.
Nakashin is an exporter of frozen mangoes and pineapple to the European and Japanese market and is based in Malagamot, Panacan, Davao City.
On April 9, the company, which exports frozen mangoes and pineapples to European and Japanese market, dismissed 75 workers after they refused to sign a blank waiver and quitclaim and to write a resignation letter in exchange for P1,000.
The dismissed workers were said to be working for the company for three to eight years already.
Pulong insults labor leader
In its Facebook post on Wednesday, KMU Southern Mindanao said Duterte has disrespected labor leader Romualdo “Dodong” Basilio on Monday morning, May 30 at the workers’ picket line where Duterte tried to mediate between the employer and the workers. KMU said the same incident happened during the scheduled mediation inside Duterte’s office in the afternoon.
Duterte allegedly told Basilio: “P***** ina ka… ikaw ra makinabang ani… ugok…. P***** ina, badyak-badyakan tika dira karon…” (You son of a b****. You’re the only one who will benefit from this. Stupid. I will give you a beating).
Basilio is the former Vice President and former Chairperson of KMU Mindanao.
KMU asked for Duterte’s apology saying they will “not disregard VM Duterte’s efforts in providing the workers a venue for dialogue with Nakashin.”
“However, his current status in society does not give him license to disparage other lowly citizens, especially ordinary workers,” the group said.
Vice mayor apologizes, but…
On the same day, Duterte posted a statement on his Facebook account that he is apologizing for what he said to Basilio.
“My actions toward the illegal strikers before the Nakashin Company, particularly to KMU Leader Dodong Basilio, was borne out of exasperation and frustration towards the KMU. Instead of solving the issue and helping the workers, the KMU aggravated and worsened the situation. My emotions got into me,” Duterte said in the post that has 73 shares as of 10:08 pm Wednesday.
However, Duterte said that the workers were “manipulated” by the KMU.
“It was not my finest moment. I felt sorry for the workers who wanted to work but were manipulated by the KMU,” he said.
Duterte said that he is willing to help the workers but refused to work with KMU.
“I don’t need to deal with them,” he said.
Duterte called on the dismissed workers who are already “fed up” with KMU to go to him. He said he will ask the owner of the company for their possible regularization once KMU’s activities are done.
“We don’t need THE KMU to negotiate on our workers’ behalf. In this generation, we will stand on our own and fight for the rights of our workers in the most diplomatic way. We have to save the employees and the company,” Duterte said on his “last statement” on the issue.
The KMU in a statement said Duterte is “belittling the workers’ capacity to decide and act for themselves” after he accused them of “manipulating” the workers.
“We invite Vice Mayor Duterte to ask each of the 75 illegally dismissed workers if his accusation that KMU ‘manipulated’ them is true,” the group said.
The labor group also said that they “are saddened that VM Duterte is unaware of what is and who constitutes KMU.”
“KMU is not Dodong Basilio or any single individual but a collective identity of workers fighting together to claim their rights to decent wages, regular jobs and worker’s rights. It is the workers that comprise KMU and they are spread across the city, the region and the country,” it said.
The group said the workers strike’ is an expression of power against a company that has long violated their right to job security.
“The workers on strike are organized under Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Nakashin (NAMANA) and they are KMU. So when VM Duterte lambasted KMU, he lambasted the very workers he claimed to feel “sorry for”,” it added.
The group also sees the younger Duterte as one who “lack(s) of understanding and appreciation of working class history.”
“The fact that we have an eight-hour workday is owed to militant working class action, the workers fighting not individually but collectively, across history through strikes,” it said.
Despite the recent turn out of events, the workers stand still on their strike and vow to continue their barricade until their demands are met.
Bryan Jaranilla, vice president of Namana said that they will continue their struggle to achieve their rights as workers.
Jaranilla said that he was dismayed over the result of the negotiation, saying that “the mediator is a public servant but we see that his side is not on us.”
The vice mayor’s actions, Jaranilla said, “will not cause them not to stay firm and united.”
Meanwhile, KMU Chairperson Carlo Olalo, told davaotoday.com that “if Duterte is willing to help the 75 dismissed workers, now is the right time.”
“The main issue here is for the dismissed workers to be reinstated, not for KMU staff to work for Nakashin,” Olalo added.
Contrary to what Duterte said, KMU said that the 75 dismissed workers of Nakashin Davao sought help to the Department of Labor and Employment and to the Japanese Consulate asking for assistance on their issue of regularization but to no avail.
“That is why they looked for KMU asking for support on their protest,” Olalo said.
“The KMU never had a second thought on lending hands to workers for it is our advocacy to unite workers against capitalists who do not do what must be their obligation,” Olalo added. (davaotoday.com)