Video of Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union on May 18, 2023 prior to the mass lay-off of unionists and union leaders. (via Facebook Live: https://fb.watch/kGPK8PXwBD/)
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) decries the union busting and mass lay-off of 140 workers of Nestlé-Wyeth. According to the unionists, the management barred the 140 workers including the 125 rank-and-file union members and 10 union officers from going to work, and without prior notice, announced their dismissal afterwards.
“This is a duplicitous move by Nestle-Wyeth considering that the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) concluded just last December 2022,” said EILER Executive-Director, Rochelle Porras, referring to the union’s public posts on social media.
Just a few months after the CBA negotiations concluded between the management and the Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union under the federation Drug, Food, and Allied Industries – Kilusang Mayo Uno (WPPWU-DFA-KMU), news of a factory shutdown and retrenchment have circulated in the factory, as well as an alleged list of workers who will be dismissed.
“The management’s statement was that the Canlubang factory will undergo ‘organizational restructuring’ to keep the operations amid the market losses. But what losses are we talking about? The workers and unionists are well aware of the high revenues of the company, and with the conclusion of the CBA, the illegal dismissal is highly questionable,” Porras said.
In 2012, Nestlé completed the acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition, which earlier acquired Wyeth Nutrition three years prior. Nestlé spent a total of USD 11.85 billion and approximately 4,500 Pfizer Nutrition employees integrated into Nestlé.
EILER noted that the Swiss conglomerate has had a record of union-busting and attacks on unionists. In 1989, while the simultaneous strikes in Nestlé plants in the country were happening, union president Meliton Roxas was shot in front of the picket line and 103 union officers were laid off after. Diosdado Fortuna became the next Nestlé workers union president and was extrajudicially killed in Cabuyao, Laguna in 2005 during another workers’ strike over retirement pay. The strike happened after the refusal of Nestle’ management to include the retirement benefits gained by the workers earlier through their collective bargaining agreement.
“Removing the union members and the union officers is an attack on the workers’ freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. We urge the Department of Labor and Employment to look into the matter and ensure that the workers’ rights are upheld. We express solidarity with the unionists,” Porras ended.