BINAN CITY, Laguna – Youth group Anakbayan deplored the arrest Tuesday (July 3) and detention of seven workers of commercial cooking equipment supplier Middleby Philippines Corp. located inside the Laguna Technopark in Binan City, Laguna who are in the middle of a sit-down strike to assert their regularization.
According to Anakbayan, contractuals earn a minimum wage of P378, and are forced to render four hours of required overtime, which often turns into an “overnight overtime” to meet Middleby’s demands.
Middleby Philippines, which is under the U.S.-based Middleby Corporations, supplies oven conveyors, fryers, and fry tanks to the country’s top fast-food chains, as well as international fast-food chains and restaurants.
At around 11:30 a.m., elements of the Binan City Police together with Middleby security guards forcibly entered the factory to disperse the strike.
At least five workers were reportedly injured as police dragged workers during the dispersal, while workers Armel Gulaver, Renee Castillo, Mamerto Guyo, Senhamir Villanueva, Dhanrey Serafin, John Michael Gontinas, and Jessie Padilla were taken to the Binan City Police Station where they are currently being held.
On May 10, 131 workers of Middleby launched the sit-down strike as a protest against their continuing contractual employment and an impending layoff. From then on, they experienced constant intimidation and harassment from the company and police force, including the imposition of a food blockade in an attempt to paralyze the strike.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region IV-A has already ordered April this year the regularization of the contractual workers from the two manpower agencies of Middleby, which are Gawad Kalinga and Mother Ignacia, but Middleby refused to take action.
Of the more than 300 workers of the company, 191 are contractual employees and only 82 are regular employees.
“We denounce the local police for being Middleby’s fascist tool to forcibly resume its operations inside the factory and continue its exploitation of workers for profit. Time and again, Duterte’s Philippine National Police (PNP) has proven that its mantra “to serve and protect” means kowtowing to the whims of the elite and ruling class at the expense of the rights and welfare of ordinary Filipinos, oppressed and marginalized,” Anakbayan said.
“We demand for the immediate release of the detained workers who are peacefully exercising their right to protest against the company’s inhumane labor practices. We likewise call for justice for the workers of Middleby who have suffered enough under the company’s greed and inaction, the government’s inutility in decisively upholding their welfare, and the police use of brute force<” Anakbayan stressed.
Anakbayan calls on the Filipino youth to strongly support Middleby workers and all other workers throughout the country – from NutriAsia, Jollibee, PLDT, Pepsi Cola, Slord Development Corp. (makers of Uni-Pak Sardines), Hanjin, and many others – who have decided to raise their militancy and assert security of work, decent and living wages, formation of unions, occupational and safety guarantees in the workplace – rights that should be duly afforded to the working class who creates superprofits for the capitalists. [BicolToday.com]