#TanduayWorkersOnStrike amidst attacks by Lucio Tan’s guards and hired goons

Workers of Tanduay Distillers Inc., which is owned by Lucio Tan who is listed byForbes Magazine as the Philippines’ second richest man in 2014, are currently on strike to demand regular jobs and better working conditions. Despite attacks by factory guards and goons reportedly hired by the employers, the workers who produce some of the country’s most popular alcoholic beverages have continued their work stoppage for more than a week now. Located in Cabuyao, Laguna, some 44 kilometers south of Manila, the Tanduay plant hires contractual workers through the agencies Global Skills Providers Multi-Purpose Cooperative and HD Manpower Service Cooperative. Contractual workers are temporary workers who are forced to end their services after a given period, usually 6 months, and are not given standard labor benefits. Many companies engage in contractualization to lower the cost of their operations. These two agencies engage in the illegal practice of labor-only contracting or the hiring of contractuals to do work that is essential to production, said the labor union Tanggulan Ugnayan Daluyong ng Lakas-Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc (TUDLA) For the past 5-11 years, 397 workers or 90 percent of the total workforce at the Tanduay plant in Cabuyao have been contractual workers. These unjust working conditions in the beverage plant compelled the Tanduay workers to form TUDLA on April 16 and file a petition for regularization with theDepartment of Labor and Employment (DOLE). But instead of addressing their concerns, the contractual workers were suddenly made to sign a one-year service contract by Tanduay even if the company has not previously required them to sign any contract. On May 16, Saturday, hundreds of workers were told that there would not be any schedule for contract signing. In short, the workers were already retrenched. Because of this the workers decided on the spot to launch a strike on Monday, May 18. The workers’ own computations as released by TUDLA shows that Tanduay workers create an estimated 15 million pesos worth of beverage products every day. Company owner Lucio Tan has a net worth of 270 billion pesos as of 2014. And yet the Tanduay workers continue to earn a measly P315 a day, while the government’s new Two-Tiered Wage System is expected to lower that figure to P255 a day. The system is productivity scheme that labor groups say is a legal mechanism to drive down workers’ wages in the country. Meanwhile, Tanduay workers also complain that they cannot avail of paid time off for sick leave or vacation, medical and other benefits, or even bonuses. Employees, the union says, are frequently dismissed from their jobs suddenly and without explanation. From day one of the strike, the company’s security personnel and hired thugs have reportedly harassed and even harmed the striking workers and their supporters to disperse the picket line. Dozens have suffered injuries from beatings. However, the extremely exploitative conditions have pushed the Tanduay workers to continue with the strike and their fight for better working conditions, just wages, benefits, job security, and against contractualization, repression, and injustice. Note: I wrote this article for thepoc.net

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