[Statement] Regular employment for Tanduay workers! Stop violence against Tanduay workers! -CTUHR

Statement of Solidarity with the Workers of Tanduay Distillers, Inc.
Regular employment for Tanduay workers! Stop violence against Tanduay workers!

CTUHR Tanduay

Photo from CTUHR

We, labor groups and church groups, express our solidarity with the workers of Tanduay Distillers, Inc. who have been on strike for over a month as of this writing. We believe that their fight against unfair dismissal and contractualization is just, reasonable and lawful.

CTUHR logo

Last June 10, our groups held a solidarity mission for Tanduay workers. We visited their picketline outside Asia Brewery, Inc. (ABI) in Cabuyao, Laguna, and we were appalled by the widespread contractualization in the said company. Tanduay Distillers, Inc. is owned by the second richest man in the Philippines, Mr. Lucio Tan. Tanduay’s net income for 2014 was at P101 million. Yet more than 90 percent of Tanduay’s workforce—397 out of 437—are contractual workers, even if majority of them have been serving the company from one to as much as 12 years. When the workers strived to organize themselves by creating a workers’ association, Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. or TUDLA, and filed legitimate complaints against the illegal manpower agencies overseeing their employment, they were unjustly dismissed from work.

The workers of Tanduay meant no harm when they launched their strike last May 18. They only wanted to ensure that their many years of hard work are recognized, and will not go to waste.

Members of the Solidarity Mission listen to the stories of Tanduay Workers. Photo from CTUHR

Members of the Solidarity Mission listen to the stories of Tanduay Workers. Photo from CTUHR

The management of Tanduay, together with the two manpower agencies supplying Tanduay’s workforce, HD Manpower Cooperative (HD) and Global Provider Skills Manpower Cooperative (Global), have been denying workers their regular employment for many years. It was discovered that both HD and Global have been practicing labor-only contracting, which is illegal based on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Department Order (DO) 18-A.

When the workers learned about this, they began to file complaints and asked the DOLE to conduct an on-site inspection. In order to circumvent the law, the manpower agencies suddenly asked the workers to sign a one-year service agreement without recognizing their many years of working in the company. Those who refused to sign were no longer given work schedules on the week of May 18, which is tantamount to dismissal.

The workers of Tanduay acted peacefully within their rights and meant no harm, but the management of Tanduay retaliated by using brute force to silence them. On May 19, the day after the strike was launched, at least 50 workers were injured when private security personnel hurled stones and attacked the unarmed striking workers with truncheons, batons, and steel tubes. Each day from May 19 to May 23, the workers were relentlessly harassed by goons allegedly hired by Tanduay, transported via vehicles with markings of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Even supporters were not spared; the same group of security reinforcements attacked supporters from Metro Manila who visited the picketline last May 23. They broke the windshield of a jeepney that carried supporters and damaged the van of ACT Partylist with rattan sticks. On June 3, another 30 workers and supporters of TUDLA were hurt after over 200 security personnel of Tanduay, again suspected goons, used force and violence to halt the peaceful program being held outside the gates of Asia Brewery. Three motorcycles owned by Tanduay workers were destroyed and two supporters were handcuffed, arrested, and detained for at least three hours by these reported goons before they were turned over to Cabuyao police station until they were finally released. The camera of a Tanduay worker photographing the violence was seized by security and returned smashed, with its memory card and all photographs missing.

Apart from these violations of rights and brutal force used against Tanduay workers, we find it even more alarming that government and military officials are involved in the contractualization scheme and violence. Tanduay workers have long sought the help of the local government of Cabuyao, Laguna to settle the issue, but a month has passed and they have yet to hear from their local leaders. As it turned out, HD Manpower Cooperative is owned by a kin of Mayor Isidro “Jun” Hemedes Jr. When the company goons attacked the workers and their supporters, the police only stood and watched while workers were assaulted. Right after the workers launched their strike, Tanduay Distillers, Inc reportedly hired a new security agency, Sigasig Security Services Inc. (Sigasig), owned by Retired Lt. General Noel Abrigo Covalles. Covalles was a commanding officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for combat operations in Maguindanao.

Tanduay management refuses to recognize the workers under HD and Global as regular employees, even if they have earned so much from the workers’ long years of hard labor. Each Tanduay worker earns only P315 for 8 hours of work each day. This amount is plainly incomparable to the P12.7 billion total assets of Tanduay in 2013, as reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We are not even asking for wage increase or more benefits,” a Tanduay worker lamented, “we are just demanding for secure jobs, that our many years of service in the company be recognized.” Yet Tanduay is stubbornly denying them this very basic and rightful demand.

We observe that the situation of Tanduay reflects the situation of our young working people. Contractual, insecure and low-wage jobs have become the fate of a big majority of our young people today. The workers in Tanduay are a case in point: they are at the prime of their youth, between 18 to 33 years old. They are educated; many have gained college-level education, with degrees in education, agriculture, and economics among others. We find this deeply disturbing—the reality that our economy and our government cannot provide decent employment to realize the full potential of our youth.

On June 28, the DOLE will release its decision on status of striking workers of Tanduay. We call on the DOLE to uphold the regular status of the 397 contract workers and make Tanduay management responsible as their principal employer. To be recognized as regular employees is only fair for the contractual workers of Tanduay, most especially since the DOLE has recently upheld a decision that the two labor agencies are illegal. We also demand that the government should take action to stop the violence against the Tanduay workers and hold Mr. Lucio Tan, Tanduay Distillers, Inc., and the security agency Sagisag, responsible for the damages and injuries on the workers and their supporters.

Finally, we call on the Filipino people to show their support for the Tanduay workers, please sign their online petition, and in the meantime boycott Tanduay products:

Tanduay 5 Years Fine Dark Rhum
Tanduay Rum 1854
Tanduay 65 Fine Dark Rhum
Tanduay Fine White Rhum
Tanduay Asian Rum (Gold, Silver)
Tanduay Rhum Light
Tanduay Superior Rhum
Tanduay Extra Strong Rhum
Tanduay Rhum ESQ
Boracay Rum

Cocktails and Alcomix:
Tanduay Cocktails (Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, Margarita, Blue Mai Tai)
Tanduay Ice Alcomix
Tanduay Black Alcomix

Gin Kapitan
Gin Kapitan Light
London Premium Dry Gin

Other liquors:
Cossack Vodka
Compañero Light Brandy
Embassy Whiskey

Indeed the fight of the Tanduay workers is the fight of our young Filipino workers today. Let us be inspired by their unity and resolve to struggle for regular employment, for a better future for their families and for a life of dignity. Let us join their struggle, and broaden and strengthen our unity towards achieving decent work and dignity of work for all.

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR)
Churchpeople Workers Solidarity (CWS)
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)
Medical Mission Sisters (MMS)
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
Solidarity Philippines
United Methodist Church (UMC)

25 June 2015

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