March 7, 2019
Senatoriable: Contractualization is more than endo and 5-5-5
Senate bet Ka Leody de Guzman, a former factory worker who now runs under Partido Lakas ng Masa went to a protest camp Thursday set up by displaced workers of Waterich Resources corporation in Laguna.
On the eve of March 5, workers set up camp in front of the regional office of the Labor department to expose the collusion between Waterich Resources and Asia Brewery Inc. (ABI), owned by Michael Tan and his father Lucio Tan, respectively, to avoid the regularization of workers and the compliance to legally-mandated wages and benefits. The workers pressed the DOLE to intervene on the union-busting scheme of the management of Waterich.
The leaders of Alliance of Workers at Waterich Resources Corporation (AWWARE) are demanding their (1) reinstatement as regular workers as per compliance order; (2) absorption into ABI with continuous length of service; and (3) full payment of days where they were put out of work.
Speaking before displaced employees, De Guzman said, "The labor dispute at Waterich Resources shows that there is more to contractualization than endo and 5-5-5. Contractual workers under an agency or service cooperative are denied their rights to be recognized as regular workers and enjoy the benefits of the their tenured status. It highlights the scheme of outsourcing and contracting, where principal employers set up seemingly third-party separate entities to circumvent labor standards and higher wages.
"In this case, not only did ABI employ the services of another entity to evade their legal obligations in the persona of Waterich; more so, Waterich employed the services of labor-only contractors such as Work Trusted Manpower Services Cooperative, HR Team Asia at HD Manpower Service Cooperative, to further depress wages and intensify the threat of unemployment to unsecure contractual workers," he added.
The labor leader emphasized the urgent need for "policy reforms to prohibit the existence of trilateral agreements, which have proven to be detrimental to workers rights and welfare".
He exclaimed, "Dati namang direct hire ang mga manggagawa at nareregular matapos ang anim na buwan. Tumutubo ang mga kumpanya dahil produktibo ang mga regular na manggagawang may mas maayos na sweldo't benepisyo. Mula dekada 90 naging moda na ang outsourcing at contracting na nagpamura sa labor namin at naghihirap lalo sa mga kontraktwal".
Manny Sagun, president of AWWARE explained, "Bilyonaryo si Lucio Tan, pang-apat siya sa pinakamayaman sa bansa at pang-441 sa daigdig na may pag-aaring $4.7 bilyon noong 2018. Subalit ang yaman ng kanilang pamilya ay nagmula sa pagsasamantala ng kanilang empleyado".
Sagun shared the experience of workers at Waterich Resources. In February 2018, the DOLE Region 4A issued a compliance order for the regularization of 76 workers as its employees, they were previously deemed as contractuals of Work Trusted Manpower Service Cooperative, HR Team Asia, at HD Manpower Service Cooperative. The management filed an appeal before the Office of the labor secretary.
The workers, who were declared regular employees soon formed AWWARE, to ensure their rights and be able to collectively bargain for increased wages and benefits. In a certification election held last February 8, 2019, the union garnered 80 votes out of 113. The workers who were recently regularized by the DOLE compliance order were allowed take part in the elections.
Sagun clarified that by allowing us to vote, management admitted that that we are indeed workers of Waterich". Five days later, the DOLE med-arbiter issued a resolution that recognized AWWARE as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent at Waterich employees.
The bottling company did not seem to restrict the workers' exercise of self-organization but was plotting a different scheme to circumvent labor laws.
"Hindi naman totoong isasara dahil patuloy pa rin ang produksyon. Ang mag-iiba lang ay ang pangalan ng aming employer. Inaalok kaming maging probationary employees ng ABI. Hindi kami pinanganak kahapon. Kalauna'y tatanggalin din kami," he explained.
De Guzman concluded, "Walang problema kung nais tapusin ng Asia Brewery tapusin ang kanilang kontrata sa Waterich. Ang punto, sila’y mga regular na empleyado na gumagawa ng trabahong 'usually necessary or desirable' sa operasyon ng kumpanya.
Ang kontra-manggagawang iskema ng 'trilateral work arrangements' ay dapat nang ipagbawal sa pamamagitan ng pagrerebisa sa Labor Code para tuluyang mapuksa ang kontraktuwalisasyon. Ito ang sentral na dahilan ng aking pagtakbo bilang senador".
Waterich Resources Corporation has been in existence for more than twenty years. It manufactures bottled water exclusively for ABI, particularly for its Summit and Absolute brands. On January 28 this year, in a establishment employment announced its plans to close its operation on February 28. They state that ABI will take-over its operations. Waterich is 100% owned by ABI but appears to have an exclusive "toll pack agreement" with the mother company. ###
Manny Sagun, AWWARE union president 0935 066 3482
Ka Leody de Guzman 0920 520 0672