August 1, 2018
Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), email@example.com
NYCHRP Condemns Unlawful Dispersal and Arrest of NutriAsia Workers, their Family Members, and Journalists
Marilao, Bulacan — The Philippine National Police and over 100 private security personnel violently dispersed 300 Nutriasia workers, their families, and supporters while an ecumenial mass was held at the picket line. Many of the 300 were injured and/or arrested while many more remain missing. The police and security personnel then proceeded to destroy the personal belongings of the workers and the picket line that the workers built.
NutriAsia workers have set up a picket outside the Marilao plant since June 2, 2018. The primary demand of the workers, led by labor organization Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Nutriasia (United Workers of Nutriasia, NMN), is to end contractualization and regularize workers. In the Philippines, a majority of workers are trapped in a loop of contractual work where workers are fired every four to six month cycles. As a result, workers are left out of work. Workers were also protesting the unjust termination of workers after they formed a union, along with the subsequent illegal dismissal of 50 more workers after the latter showed support for those who were initially terminated.
The picket line was previously harassed and violently dispersed on June 14, after hundreds of policemen and company security personnel forcibly removed makeshift camps, physically assaulted workers and drove them out of the area.
In February this year, the Department of Labor Enforcement (DOLE) had already ordered NutriAsia to regularize over 900 workers after concluding that the company is engaging in labor-only contracting practices. The Department also reported that NutriAsia is violating labor laws and general labor standards, including illegal deduction for workers’ uniforms and underpayment of basic wages.
“The violent dispersal of the workers is a violation of their right to assembly and their right to form and join unions. Moreover, the police engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions when they took 19 people in the area to jail without actual evidence of charges against them. The Philippines has been a signatory to the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights since 1986. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines is also a signatory to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) since 1998. The actions of the Philippine National Police are clearly in contravention of the spirit of these human rights documents and the Philippine government needs to be held accountable for these violations,” said Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).
“We see this attack on workers as a blatant attack on our people and our ancestors. We will counter the attacks by police forces protecting exploitative corporations that are stealing people’s land and committing human rights abuses by any means necessary. We never hesitate to defend the rights of workers and the rights to land for our present and future generations. At the end of the day, these are rights that will not truly be upheld by any court or institution. They are human rights upheld by the people who call for liberation across the globe. Only when our people are liberated and only through workers struggle will human rights truly be sustained,” added Lauren Quijano of NYCHRP.
Journalists Hiyasmin Saturay and Eric Tandoc of Altermidya were among the people arrested by the Philippine National Police. They are currently still in jail despite a release order declaring that there was not enough evidence to hold them. The NutriAsia 19, as the arrestees have been called, were held for over 36 hours without charges and an unexecuted release order.
NYCHRP urgently requests that all organizations of workers including, unionized workers and those currently fighting for unionization, to join in calling attention to this workers strike. We ask for workers to show solidarity with Filipino workers by writing public statements of support that amplify the call to action to boycott all NutriAsia products and to seek justice and accountability for all those arrested at the NutriAsia picket line.
NYCHRP recognizes that when workers organize, they win and sees the courage and persistent struggle of B&H workers, laundry workers, nail salon workers, fast food workers, cab drivers who have organized and gone on strike all over New York City. We call for the end of the Trump-backed Duterte regime’s union repression and union-busting tactics. We demand NutriAsia immediately comply with the demands of the workers including regularizing the entire workforce, providing safe and healthy working conditions, providing a livable wage, and upholding their right to unionize.
If you would like to become a member of NYCHRP or another partner organization or to host an educational session about the NutriAsia strike with your organization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The educational session will be for workers to learn about current boycott efforts, and how to get involved in upcoming actions with Filipino migrant workers in solidarity.