There's Blood in Your Coffee

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nestlé workers mark 5th year strike, re-establish barricades

16 January 2007

Nestlé workers mark 5th year strike, re-establish barricades

More than 600 Nestlé workers and their families marked their 5th year of strike on January 14, 2007. The next day, around 4:30 AM, they blocked the two company gates in Nestlé Cabuyao Plant in Laguna.

Noel Alemania, union president in Nestlé Cabuyao Plant, said they will hold the barricades at all cost "to compel the (Nestlé) management to comply with the latest Supreme Court ruling" as regards the labour dispute.

The Union of Filipro Employees (UFE-DFA-KMU) staged the strike on January 14, 2002 on the issue of the Retirement Benefits. The Nestlé management used the non-inclusion of the Retirement Benefits as pre-condition to negotiate in the collective bargaining. On August 22, 2006, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its earlier 1991 decision which states the Retirement Benefits as a valid CBA item; hence, directs the management and union to go back to the negotiating table to pursue the CBA.

"The management, for five months now, has not complied with the latest SC decision. For the nth time, it (Nestlé management) is making another attempt to ignore the decisions of the highest court of the land," said Alemania.

The militant Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK), the regional chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno, expressed solidarity in the commemoration of 5th year anniversary of strike.

"The Nestlé workers have the right to restage their strike as a means to enforce the latest SC decision. Their barricades expose the fact that such a decision has no power in itself if the government authorities, who are supposed to enforce the law, remain in utmost service to the whims of the capitalists and exploiters," according to the PAMANTIK statement.

Meanwhile, some 50 fully armed elements of the CALABARZON Police, under Col. Santos, were stationed near the Nestlé gates. According to the workers "this scenario poses threats".

"The police negotiated with us and demanded that we abandon the barricade in Gate 2. From this alone, we can evidently see who these policemen are working for," said Alemania.

The container vans exiting products from the company premises need to pass by the weighing scale located in Gate 2.

"Our activity here is peaceful. Our strike is legitimate. The police have no reason to neither dissuade nor arrest us from exercising our rights," said Alemania.

"The police and military had dispersed our strikes and peaceful activities in the past five years. Our two union presidents were killed in the course of our struggle."

Union president Meliton Roxas was assassinated in front of the picketline on January 20, 1989, during their first strike. Succeeding president Diosdado "Ka Fort" Fortuna was also assassinated on his way from the picketline on September 22, 2005. Their cases remain unresolved to this day. The workers claimed the Nestlé management, using the military and police, responsible for the killings.

"We will keep the barricades and we will hold our ground. The best thing the police can do is to enforce the SC decision and oblige the Nestlé management to execute this decision," concluded Alemania.###