Wyeth workers call strike after layoff
The employees’ union of Wyeth Nutrition Philippines has filed a notice of strike in the National Conciliation and Mediation Board following the sudden retrenchment of 140 workers.
The Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union said that the “surprise” layoff of 125 rank-and-file employees, 14 supervisors and one manager at the nutrition firm’s Canlubang factory was a “gross violation” of its collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the company.
The company makes a range of nutrition products, including the popular brands Promil and Bonakid.
In a statement on Friday, the union said that it was preparing a series of activities to drumbeat their demand for reinstatement of retrenched employees as well as the regularization of other factory workers.
“We will file a notice of strike … they should be able to answer the workers and the public over the blatant disregard for their workers’ welfare,” said union president Debie Faigmani.
On Thursday morning, workers were suddenly prohibited from entering the plant without any prior notice and explanation from the management of Wyeth. The union, however, noted a “verbal” advisory from the management regarding an impending round of layoffs due to “cost-saving projects, automation and consolidation in the [factory’s] production line.”
“We have been trying to seek dialogue with the management to clear the news that’s been circulating, but they have yet to face us,” Faigmani said.
‘Clear move to abolish’
Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis said that this was a “clear move to abolish the union.”
“This is a disrespect to the CBA and the legal processes that warrant job security among workers,” he said in a statement.
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Wyeth Nutrition said the organizational restructuring was “necessary and vital” “in the face of challenging market conditions.
“The initiative has resulted in structural changes, including redundancies among positions across different functions and levels,” the statement read.
The company said they had exerted all efforts to minimize the move’s impact and separation packages and support programs were offered for retrenched workers.
However, Wyeth disputed the statement of the employees’ union on the “illegal lockout” that took place on Thursday, saying that “no lockout was implemented by the management.”
“We fully respect our employees’ rights, including the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of assembly,” it added.