Manila, Philippines (Davao City) – The protesting workers from Coca-cola Femsa Philippines are not lawbreakers, they simply exercising their right under the labor code of the Philippines.
This is the statement of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) when they take the issue with Mayor Sara Duterte and the Philippine National Police for treating and maligning the striking employees.
KMU Southern Mindanao, Secretary-General Carl Anthony Olalo said the protest action of the Kilusang Manggagawa ng Coca-Cola (KIMACO) workers’ association is legitimate. He said the union is protesting the “endo” scheme that the multi-billion dollar Coca-Cola company is practicing, wherein 127 workers were dismissed from work upon their “end of contract” (endo) from the labor agency Work Experts and Allied Services, Inc.
The employees are designated as Helpers, Pickers, Tarpers, Bad Order Dumpers, Segregators and Sweepers with more or less five to ten years in service. But the ironic part of it, in their contract the workers were described as “project employees” and they were repeatedly hired throughout their entire stay at Coca-Cola Femsa.
On March 31, 2018, their contracts were terminated and they were left jobless.
The Coca-Cola workers believe that with their length of service and under the law, they have to be made regular by the company.
Thus, they find their dismissal from work unjust, more so, they find the continuing practice of endo a social evil, which Pres. Duterte did not stop despite his promise to end this scheme. The protest action of the Coca-Cola workers
on April 2 is within the workers’ right to association and assembly.
“We condemn how PNP Chief Inspector Ronald Lao turned two-face even after our dialogue with him and with the KIMACO leadership. During the dialogue, it was clear to Chief Insp. Lao that the KIMACO is willing to disperse voluntarily if the management of Coca-Cola will hear their grievance”, Olalo explained.
Olalo adds that the Davao PNP used excessive force by deploying 25 SWAT members, 40 PNP personnel, 30 Task Force Davao and 30 Police Auxiliary to disperse 80 protesters.
Aside from the show of force, the police also toted guns at the workers and arrested KIMACO chair Sustenes Bantayan, and nine workers namely: Reynaldo Aman, Michael Ulan-Ulan, Bryan Palera, Ricardo Sales, Romel Calacat, Anthony Bayawan, Jessie Montecillo, Alvin Buccat, and Ian Debalde. The arrested Coca-cola workers were charged with Resisting Arrest and Grave Coercion.
Amidst these injuries suffered by the workers, Mayor Sara Duterte had the gall to twist the facts. She claimed the workers refused to negotiate peacefully and label the workers as lawbreakers.
As typical of the Duterte administration’s propaganda, Mayor Inday’s statement diverts the legitimate concerns of the workers by bringing it down to the trivial issue of blocking of exit and entry points.
The public interest is not whether the delivery of Coca-Cola products can be met by the day. The public interest is the workers’ struggle to demand an end to contractualization, one of the promises which the Duterte government did not deliver.
Obviously, Mayor Duterte and Police Chief Insp. Lao was only interested in protecting the interests of Coca-Cola company and holds no sympathy for the workers.
We demand the immediate release of the ten detained workers and the dropping of preposterous charges against them. We call on Coca-Cola Femsa to listen to the grievances of its workers and reinstate the 127 dismissed workers as regular workers. Finally, we call on all workers and the public to continue the vigilant fight to end Endo, to take this issue on the streets to press the Duterte administration to give in to our demands for decent jobs and living wages. CPM
Secretary General, KMU Southern Mindanao