There's Blood in Your Coffee

Sunday, August 30, 2009

KMU on CA decision: Where’s national interest in protecting Swiss firm Nestle?

Reference Person:
Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU Chairperson
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Labor center slams unjust decision upholding firing of Nestle workers

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the Court of Appeals decision which essentially upheld the corporate interests of Nestle and justified the illegal dismissal of more than 500 Nestle workers, saying invoking “national interest” as primary ground only grants big foreign corporations more power to abuse Filipino workers.

KMU said the CA decision, which upheld the firing of Nestle workers who went on strike over Nestle’s refusal to grant retirement benefits in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, is “simply unjust and unreasonable.”

“Where’s national interest in protecting the operations of Swiss company Nestle when the rights of Filipino workers are heavily under attack? Would there be a national emergency if workers, who are simply fighting for their just demands, refuse to abide by the DOLE order? KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog asked angrily.

“How could workers return to their work if truckloads of heavily-armed AFP and PNP units are the ones implementing DOLE’s Assumption of Jurisdication and return-to-work orders?” he added.

Prior to the return-to-work order, an Assumption of Jurisdiction Order was issued by DOLE in Nov. 28, 2001 over the union’s notice of strike, enabling police and military forces to swoop down on the Cabuyao factory to preempt the strike.

The Supreme Court already ruled in favor of Nestle workers in 1991, saying that retirement benefits is a mandatory collective bargaining issue. In March 2008, it reaffirmed its decision as final and executory. The labor department, however, has not lifted a finger to implement the decision and has even denied the writ of execution filed by the workers last March 5.

“Nestle has continously ignored the two decisions of the highest court for several years. I ask the Court of Appeals, who’s the one breaking the law?” said Labog.

Sheer violence against workers

In their seven-year strike, Nestle workers have suffered violent dispersals by police and military forces who have an encampment inside the Cabuyao plant up to now.

On Sept. 22, 2005, Nestle Cabuyao union president Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna was gunned down by suspected hired armed agents of Nestle on his way home.

“Clearly, the workers have no option but to continue their strike amid sheer intimidation by the armed forces in cooperation with Nestle. It is their best defense against Nestle’s desperate strategy to use the courts and armed forces to attack and end their just struggle,” Labog said.

“It is simply infuriating to hear that the appelate court has upheld corporate interest over the just and legal demands of Nestle workers. This is certainly a bad ruling that further exposes Philippine courts as anti-labor instruments of local and international capitalists.

"The recent CA decision has again clarified to the public that justice in this land favors big foreign corporations, not Filipino workers who are victims of unfair labor pratices committed by such big businesses,”said Labog. #

Kilusang Mayo Uno