RCMB vows to help fix Wyeth labor dispute

The Regional Conciliation and Mediation Board in Region IV-A said that they will be “promptly” dealing with the labor dispute between the management of Wyeth Nutrition Canlubang Factory and the Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union over the layoff of 140 workers last Thursday.

This after the WPPWU filed a “Notice of Strike” before the RCMB on Friday, in reaction to the management’s letting go 140 workers, including 125 rank-and-file workers who are part of the union, 14 supervisory staff and one in managerial position.

“The Notice of Strike filed by the Union will be dealt with promptly in the process and procedure of the office. This office shall call the parties for conciliation-mediation conferences to discuss the issues raised and to find an amicable settlement,” RCMB IV-A told Daily Tribune through e-mail.

The layoff of workers was announced on Thursday, during which workers experienced what they said was a ‘lock-out’, barring them from entering their workplace. Basas recalled that workers like him waited for hours in front of the gate of the Canlubang plant, with guards reportedly lining the gate.

“There was no such formal information with us. It was only spread among us and not like the normal way where we should be gathered to be informed about the news formally. There’s no such thing,” former Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union secretary Nash Basas told Daily Tribune.

“There were workers who were already there but were not allowed to enter because they said that we should enter together at around 7:30 in the morning, which is the start of our work schedule. […] The guards were in line at the gate. The mandate of the management is for us to enter altogether. Come 11:00, we were allowed to enter the gate to inform us about the news,” he said.

A livestream from WPPWU’s Facebook page showed workers mostly wearing red waiting in front of the Nestle-Wyeth plant gate, airing their grievances regarding their job tenures. Some of them called for solidarity, even calling their supervisors to join the struggle.

“The main reason is to streamline and to maintain their profits which were going down. They said that to maintain their profits, they have to downsize, as well as realignment of all Nestle sites,” Basas said.

He said that the union hopes that the 140 laid-off staffers will be reinstated and that there will be clear talks regarding their job tenures.

Reacting to the issues raised by WPPWU, the management of Wyeth Nutrition Canlubang Factory said in a statement that there was no lock-out put in place by them and that the said workers “staged an assembly led by union officers.”

“Management representatives went to dialogue with the union officers and encouraged them to allow their members to enter the factory. After the assembly, (the) management met with employees inside the factory to announce the restructuring and discuss its impact on their employment,” the management said.

“No lock-out was implemented by Wyeth management. We fully respect our employees’ rights, including the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of assembly,” they added.

The management called the internal restructuring “necessary and vital” as it was their response in keeping afloat their operations ‘in the face of challenging market conditions.’

The workers, they said, will receive separation packages, as well as support and transition programs to other fields of work.

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