Regent Food Corporation (RFC), the snacks company recently accused of mistreating its workers, today threatened to leave Pasig City after Mayor Vico Sotto openly sided with its striking employees.
On Sunday, Sotto posted a statement to Facebook publicly castigating RFC for hiring a private security firm that allegedly violently dispersed striking workers from their Pasig City picket line. He also alleged that RFC refused to drop the charges it filed against employees and their supporters who were arrested by the police during the dispersal. The employees and their associates were freed after they posted bail.
In a statement sent to Coconuts Manila, RFC maintained that the workers’ strike was illegal because it was backed by a group called the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Regent Food Corporation-Kilusang Mayo Uno (UMRFC-KMU), which it said didn’t have the right to represent other employees and negotiate with management. The UMRFC-KMU allegedly shut down the Pasig City factory and prevented other employees and Regent’s management from entering the premises.
“RFC was immediately accused of initiating a lockout when the truth of the matter is that it was the minority union — UMRFC-KMU — who locked RFC and its employees out of the company, gravely affecting the lives of more than 400 innocent employees,” the statement said.
RFC said that it sought the help of Mayor Sotto to convince the workers to leave the Pasig City factory and let others in, but Sotto allegedly did not provide the assistance they needed.
“This request merely fell on deaf ears, which is precisely what constrained RFC to resort to private security assistance for the sole purpose of reopening the gates of the company and resuming its usual business operations,” it said.
“Unfortunately, the strikers did not only resist these security enforcers, they also blatantly attacked the latter using sharp weapons and other tools. As a result, several of these security agents were injured; one of them is, in fact, still in critical condition.”
RFC said the attack was witnessed firsthand by the Pasig City police, which was why the strikers were charged with various crimes. However, they denied that they were responsible for filing the charges against the workers.
“Despite all of this, Mayor Vico still portrays RFC as an evil corporation ready to ‘put poor and powerless people to jail.’ Mayor Vico deliberately overlooks that RFC is not the complainant who pressed these criminal charges, RFC did not order their arrest, and RFC did not even participate in the preliminary investigation of these individuals,” it said.
“Through a prior phone call and during the personal meeting between Mayor Vico and RFC representatives, the good mayor lectured RFC to be more humanitarian. Mayor Vico, however, refused to listen to RFC’s side and consciously turned a blind eye to the plight of the majority of RFC’s employees. He also failed to see the company’s humanitarian effort in providing its affected employees financial assistance during such a dark time in the company’s history.”
“Moving forward, RFC may simply accept its fate that the Pasig City Administration will unjustly make life hard for it and its 400-strong workforce, and contemplate simply bringing its business elsewhere—a truly painful outcome for a corporation that has considered Pasig City its home for a total of three decades now,” RFC added.
Meanwhile, Defend Job Philippines, an organization that supports RFC’s striking workers, today slammed the snack company’s statement, which it said was full of false claims.
“For the longest time, striking workers have been airing out and complaining about the management’s attempt of runaway shop, lockout, union-busting, unfair labor practices, contractualization, low wages, unpaid benefits, and violations of the workers right to union and strike,” Defend Job said in a statement.
This article, Regent Foods Corporation says it may leave Pasig City after mayor sides with striking workers, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!