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17th of July 2018

Economy



Dole to Bulacan factory: Accept 80 contractual workers

Employees of subcontractors of condiment manufacturer NutriAsia join a prayer rally in Bulacan province to ask protesting workers to resume work. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

CITY OF MEYCAUAYAN — Condiments giant NutriAsia Inc. has been directed to absorb 80 contractual workers of its quality control and research and development unit, after the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) ruled that it had engaged in “labor-only contracting” with a manpower service provider at its factory in Marilao town, Bulacan province.

The 80 workers were hired by a job service provider, AsiaPro Multipurpose Cooperative.

A Dole directive, issued on June 25, ruled that the workers must be considered regular employees of NutriAsia for performing quality control tasks which “entail confidential formulation and testing of [NutriAsia’s] manufactured condiments, sauces and food products which, by all intents and purposes, are considered trade secrets.”

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NutriAsia, manufacturer of brands like Datu Puti, Mang Tomas and UFC, said it would heed the Dole order.

Different group of workers

But Thelma Meneses, NutriAsia human resources officer, told a news briefing on Tuesday that the 80 workers did not take part in the picket mounted by contractual employees that had disrupted operations in the Marilao factory since June 2.

The protesters were recruited by another manpower supplier, B-Mirk Multipurpose Cooperative, for the factory’s packaging and bottling unit, and were allegedly fired after forming a union, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia.

“Why are AsiaPro workers being regularized and not us when B-Mirk also violated the law? Those workers who will become regular employees do not operate machines and equipment like us,” said Alvin Lascano, who led the picket manned by 75 contractual employees.

He said they submitted documents to prove they also deserved to be absorbed by NutriAsia as regular employees. He said they would bring the matter before Congress and would ask the court to stop the Dole from enforcing its order.

The Dole Central Luzon office had initially investigated B-Mirk regarding its operations and the treatment of its workers, following an inspection in March.

Absolved

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But it absolved B-Mirk of any wrongdoing, saying its workers were contracted to package or bottle catsup, soy sauce, vinegar and other commodities produced by NutriAsia.

The order said B-Mirk workers were not hired for jobs directly related to the company’s main business.

Unlike B-Mirk’s deal with NutriAsia, AsiaPro’s contract did not explain what auxiliary services their employees were supposed to undertake, according to the order issued by Zenaida Angara-Campita, Dole Central Luzon director.

Campita said it was “highly improbable that [NutriAsia] did not exercise direct control over the work performed by [quality control workers from AsiaPro].”

She also said AsiaPro leased tools and equipment used by its workers from NutriAsia. These were manifestations of “labor-only contracting,” Campita said.

“In turn, NutriAsia is engaged in labor-only contracting [for] farming out jobs which are directly-related to its operations and [for] exercising control over the activities of the engaged workers,” Campita said.

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