Militants picket condiment factory in Bulacan town
MARILAO, Bulacan — At least 200 people, mostly activists from militant groups, blocked the gate of a condiment factory here to support workers of a packaging firm demanding that they be regularized as factory employees although they were actually workers of another firm.
The group formed a picket barring entry to the Marilao plant of NutriAsia Inc., manufacturer of condiment brands Datu Puti, UFC and Mang Tomas.
Jessie Gerola, leader of the protesters, claimed he and 50 other workers were removed by NutriAsia after they formed a union, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia Inc. (NMNAI), which they registered on April 13.
NutriAsia, however, said in a statement on Sunday that most of the protesters who manned the picket line were not employees but members of the militant groups Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Worker Movement for Change and Gabriela.
The company statement said it would seek legal action because the picket led to damage.
Operations at the factory stopped because of the picket, NutriAsia said.
“NutriAsia management will continue to recognize their right to organize and peaceful assembly,” the company statement said, but added that it requested the police to secure the premises because workers inside the plant had been prevented from leaving.
Protest leader Gerola said NMNAI was put up after contractual employees learned about a supposed order from the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) directing NutriAsia to start a regularization program for contractual employees.
NutriAsia, however, said the supposed order was nonexistent and the 50 workers were actually employed by B-Mirk Enterprises Corp., a company engaged in packaging.
B-Mirk also provides services to other local and multinational firms.
“There is also no truth to their claims that the Dole has issued an order to make them regular NutriAsia employees,” the NutriAsia statement added.
Alvin Lascano, NMNAI vice president, said at least 1,000 factory workers still served as contractual employees despite working for more than 10 years at the Marilao plant.
“You do not have the right to belittle us for we have the right to organize a union,” the picketing workers said.
“The factory runs because of us,” they said. —Carmela Reyes-Estrope
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