Tanduay strikers persist in fight for regularization despite harassment

Tanduay strike
Tanduay workers marching to Gate 3 of Lucio Tan’s Asia Brewery Complex June 3 (Photo courtesy of Pamantik)

“Why did the police not arrest the goons for their violence earlier? Why did they handcuff the workers and treat them like criminals instead?”

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Workers of Tanduay Distillers Inc. on strike marched and held a program in front of Gate 3 of Asia Brewery Complex to mark the 17th day of their strike on June 3, but they were forcibly driven away by the combined force of 200 security guards and goons, said a statement emailed by the Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA) to the media. TUDLA is the labor association of Tanduay workers.

The strikers and their supporters — they were estimated to be about 500 — said they were peacefully wrapping up their program by 6:30 p.m., calling on the management of Tanduay to regularize them on the job and put an end to their being contractual for years now. They also appealed to what they call as “legitimate security guards of the brewery complex” to avoid being used by “greedy Lucio Tan Group.” They told the guards they are also being exploited by Lucio Tan, and being used to hurt their fellow workers.

But as they were preparing to disperse and continue their program at Gate 2, the augmented security guards and “hired goons” reportedly threw bottles and rocks at them, and some went at them and drubbed them with steel clubs and truncheons.

Tanduay strike
Workers bring placards cum shield bearing Tanduay’s coat of arms, and their calls for regularization on the job (Photo courtesy of Pamantik)

In their statement, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK), the regional chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Tagalog, condemned the attack that injured 30 people, and wrecked at least three motorbikes of the workers. It said Lucio Tan’s goons also manhandled and dragged away Christopher Oliquino, vice-president of Pamantik-KMU, and Erwin Lucito, a worker from Honda Cars Philippines. The two had marched in support of Tanduay striking workers. They were reportedly held captive by the “goons” for three hours.

Tanduay workers described the behavior of the goons and guards as “crazed like a drug addict. ” They decried their inhumane treatment of the strikers.

It was by 9:00 that evening when they heard that the police, the security guards and the goons have brought Oliquino and Lucito to the police station.

Ansi Are, president of TUDLA, said the workers demonstrated in front of the Philippine National Police station in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where their colleagues were brought. They expressed their indignation at the police force.

“Why did the police not arrest the goons for their violence earlier? Why did they handcuff the workers and treat them like criminals instead?” asked Allan Bagas, secretary general of PAMANTIK-KMU.

A strike against contractualization

The strike of Tanduay workers stemmed from their demand to be regularized on the job. They said 397 workers of Tanduay Distillers Inc remain as contractuals or non-regular workers even though they have worked continuously in Tanduay from five to 11 years before they launched their strike.

A May 5 notice of resolution from the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment showed that “Tanduay Distillery Inc.” and the two agencies supplying it with workers were indeed engaged in illegal contractualization. It said they violated the Department Order No. 18-A, series of 2011.

In supervision and control and in work assignment, the labor department found out that the workers were in fact directly reporting to the supervisor of “Tanduay Distillery Inc.,” and that the workers supposedly of service cooperatives and not of Tanduay were in fact assigned at the production area which is necessary in the operation of Tanduay’s business.

TUDLA, the representatives of “service cooperatives” (labor agencies), and sometimes the lawyers of Tanduay Distillers Inc. have been conducting hearings at offices of the labor department.

Dante Ragasa, vice president of TUDLA, told Bulatlat.com that they attended a hearing at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board on June 1. The next day, he said the labor department told them it would issue an order for resolution by June 28.

An order for resolution typically follows the labor department’s notice of results of its findings about general labor standards in a workplace it inspected.

Ansi Are, president of TUDLA, vowed they would not budge on their calls despite the “desperate acts of Lucio Tan” to disperse their ranks. He said that on the contrary, these will only fuel their desire to fight for their regularization on the job, and for some improvements in their work conditions. ()

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