Coca-Cola workers demand regularization, call for public support

Photo by Ruth Lumibao

Many workers at the Sta. Rosa plant have been considered contractual despite eighteen 18 years of service. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already released a final and executory order to regularize all 675 contractual workers but the CCFPI has repeatedly refused to carry out the order.

By RUTH LUMIBAO
Bulatlat.com

STA. ROSA, LAGUNA — In time for the Lenten Season, Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines, Inc. (CCFPI) workers at the Sta. Rosa, Laguna plant staged a picket to reiterate their call for an end to contractualization.

For ten months, both regular and contractual workers of CCFPI have joined the strike. On March 21, the workers successfully closed all the gates of the Sta. Rosa plant and stopped the production for at least eight hours.

According to Raffy Baylosis, president of Liga na Pinalakas ng Manggagawa sa Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines Sta. Rosa Plant (LIGA), CCFPI lost an estimated amount of P44 million when the workers closed the gates.

Many workers at the Sta. Rosa plant have been considered contractual despite eighteen 18 years of service. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already released a final and executory order to regularize all 675 contractual workers but the CCFPI has repeatedly refused to carry out the order.

Baylosis also explained how the subcontracting agencies have begun to close down. Before the strike, however, subcontracting agencies refused to claim accountability for the non-regularization of workers because of the nature of the workers’ employment as ‘subconts’ (short term for workers employed by subcontractors). The labor union leader condemned this, citing that the Labor Code requires all employees performing ‘necessary and desirable’ jobs in the company to be considered ‘regular employees’.

Jerome Adonis, secretary general of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), said that aside from CCFPI’s refusal to implement the DOLE order, the company has also chosen to retrench at least 600 employees, claiming losses over the recent implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. The Train law imposes a P6/liter tax on beverages using caloric and noncaloric sweeteners and P12/liter on beverages using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

In a report, CCFPI management said it is undergoing an organizational structure assessment.

“In this case, ‘restructuring’ is simply code for ‘union-busting’,” Adonis said, as four union presidents and 19 other union leaders were among those laid off.

KMU slammed the administration’s “betrayal of workers and a connivance with big businesses” after Duterte has recently turned his back on his campaign promise to end the contractualization and refused to sign the executive order for the same. Despite the release of an order in favor of Coca-Cola workers, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello has remained silent on the issue.

KMU and LIGA encouraged the public to support the Coca-Cola workers on strike.
“The demand to regularize the 675 contractual Coke workers is a major front in the Filipino workers’ struggle for regular jobs, decent work and other fundamental labor rights, including the right to unionize and to strike,” Adonis said. ()

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