[Press Release] ECOP’s top industrial relations awardees are union busters – CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is appalled by the Kapatiran sa Industriya (KAPATID) Award given on May 5 by the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to twelve companies, a number of which have records of union busting and labor rights violations.

Thirteen companies were recognized by ECOP for their so-called “excellence in industrial relations, quality and productivity, social accountability, and strategic visioning and partnering for business and job survival.” Of the twelve, four companies namely, Dole Philippines (Dolefil), the Grand Winner as well as Nestle, Toyota, and SM Retail have long records of workers and union rights violations, according to the labor NGO.

The panel of judges was composed of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, ILO-Manila Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Dean Jorge Sibal of UP-School of Labor and Industrial Relations, and David Balangue from the private sector.

“ECOP’s handing of awards to one of their own is logical even if the barometer runs counter to international human rights standards. But getting representatives from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Department of Labor and Employment (ILO) as judges did not only leave bitter taste to the award but also smacks of workers’ right to freedom of association that both institutions supposedly pledged to protect.  The awardees who were recognized for their excellence in industrial peace and social accountability had in fact busted independent and genuine unions in their own companies through combination of legal maneuvers and force,” CTUHR executive director Daisy Arago noted.

Dolefil, Toyota, Nestle: union rights violators

Dolefil, Toyota, and Nestlé have existing complaint at International Labor Organization filed since 2007 and were subjects of investigation of the first ILO High Level Mission (ILO-HLM) in 2009 on serious violations of freedom of association under ILO convention 87 and 98.

“Dolefil’s record of union discrimination and unfair labor practices, harassments including use of the military since 2006 against AMADO-KADENA-NAFLU-KMU was long,” Arago added. “These were even confirmed by SGS auditors for the SAI [Social Accountability International].”

SAI is an international group that gives certification to multinationals that uphold workers rights among other corporate social responsibilities in their respective workplace. SAI, following the SGS audit affirmed the guilt of Dolefil for violations of the right to freedom of association in 2010.

Arago pointed out that this record of rights violation committed by Dolefil was brushed aside by the very statement of ILO Manila director Lawrence Jeff Johnson by saying that ‘Dole has much to be proud of….[as it encompassed] everything we were looking for in our top category: positive employee relations, community service, quality products and environmental responsibility.’

Nestle’s record is even more appalling according to Arago, “Regular workers at Nestlé Philippines in Cabuyao, Laguna who spent 20 years of their lives in the company remain on strike since 2002.  Forty-eight (48) of them already died from various illnesses without receiving proper medical attention, while their previous jobs were handed over to docile and lower-paid contract workers.”

“The killing of Nestlé union president Diosdado Fortuna on September 2005 at the height of strike remains unsolved. So was the killing of Meliton Roxas who was gunned down in front of the picketline in a Nestle strike in 1989. One unionist killed is already too many to raise alarm. But Nestlé Philippines was still awarded for industrial peace and social accountability. And now Nestlé is saying that with this award, it has ‘polished’ its image.”

“Toyota’s case is no different. Independent initiatives of workers to organize union in 2001 were met with mass dismissal of almost 300 union members.” Arago said.

ILO, DOLE’s vote: a slap on trade unionism

Arago said that the ILO’s participation in conferring the awards especially to Dolefil, Nestlé, and Toyota is particularly disconcerting, “It was like striking a dagger at the very heart of independent trade unions who have come to the ILO for support if not justice, when both capital and government had ganged on them. ILO’s endorsement of this award to union rights violators is tantamount to closing its doors to genuine unions that had mastered the courage to challenge the system that perpetuates violations and refuse to become objects of repression.”

“Equally, we are dismayed with the Department of Labor and Employment under Aquino for not even pretending to be neutral, and shedding any façade of pro workers stance. Could the awarding which happened almost in the nick of inaugurating Aquino administration’s first year of office an open statement or a warning of what it would be like for workers in the next five years? The indications are far from the promised straight path and we could not help but become wary of the kind of ‘industrial peace’ the Aquino administration is pursuing” Arago added.

30 June 2011
for reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63910.380.1897

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