14 November, 2019Since January this year, workers trying to organize at PEPMACO in the Philippines, are met by union busting and violence. IndustriALL unions in the country are condemning the behaviour and calling on company management and the Philippine government to respect fundamental workers’ rights.
Unionists are facing increasing repression in the Philippines. IndustriALL’s ten Philippine affiliates have expressed solidarity with the struggle of PEPMACO workers, who are challenging dismissals and fighting back harassment from hired thugs and police.
Contract workers at PEPMACO are objecting to their long-term status as contract workers. The workers became increasingly concerned about their health and safety when the employer forced them to handle unknown chemicals, causing skin injuries.
When PEPMACO dismissed 36 agency workers in January this year and planned to lay off another 200 workers, workers organized and registered the PEPMACO Workers Union on 29 January.
“The employer responded by dismissing key union leaders, and another 148 workers were sacked when they refused to work overtime,”
says Julius Carandang, from IndustriALL affiliate Metalworkers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP).
MWAP has organized PEPMACO workers since 2018.
The frustrated workers went on strike in front of PEPMACO on 24 June. During the night, a group of thugs allegedly hired by PEPMACO, violently attacked the workers; 12 of them had to go to hospital for their injuries.
Not deterred by the violent intimidation, the workers are persisting and holding a picket line in front of the company.
“The skin injuries are indeed very serious and the company must take immediate measure to protect the safety of all workers in the factory. The Department of Labour and Employment must conduct a thorough inspection on unknown chemicals used in the manufacturing process,”
says Annie Adviento, regional secretary of IndustriALL South East Asia Office.
Labour contracting is a problem in the Philippines, where the employer currently has space to exploit workers. IndustriALL affiliates in the Philippines are lobbying for the passage of a bill to end contractualization and to guarantee workers’ rights.