DOLE orders NutriAsia to regularize 80 workers of its contracting agency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The Labor Department has found NutriAsia is engaged in the illegal practice of labor-only contracting with one of its contractors.

DOLE ordered the food condiment giant to regularize 80 workers of the agency.

"NutriAsia is engaged in labor-only contracting engagement and AsiaPro Multi-Purpose Cooperative is a labor-only contractor. Hence the Regional Director of the DOLE Regional Office III ordered NutriAsia to regularize 80 workers of AsiaPro Multi-Purpose Cooperative," DOLE Information and Publication Service told CNN Philippines on Tuesday.

It added, "Under Section 7 of Department Order No. 174, NutriAsia is deemed the direct employer of its contractor's workers."

DOLE said based on the order issued by Director Zenaida Angara-Campita of the DOLE Central Luzon last June 25, AsiaPro Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AMPC) was has no capacity to procure its own equipment and machinery because it leases the said tools from NutriAsia.

Article 106 of the Labor Code defines an arrangement to be labor-only contracting when the contractor does not have substantial capital or investment.

The 80 workers from AMPC provided quality control and research and development services, which DOLE said was directly related to NutriAsia's main business. Under labor laws, a company cannot outsource jobs that is vital to the operation of the company.

"Workers are particularly doing processing and monitoring of production processes and evaluating sampling of goods and raw materials and finished goods," DOLE said.

DOLE issued a stern warning to AMPC to "cease and desist from further engaging in contracting activities."

NutriAsia said they will appeal the DOLE order.

"There is no iota of evidence that we are engaged with Labor-Only Contracting practices. We also respect DOLE Region 3's ruling regarding AsiaPro. As reiterated by Usec Joel Maglungsod, the regional level's decision is not final and executory. We will invoke our right to appeal at the Office Of the Secretary of Labor," it said in a statement.

NutriAsia is one of the largest producers of condiments in the country, which include Datu Puti, Mang Tomas, UFC, Papa, and Jufran.

Meanwhile, DOLE found that NutriAsia's five other contractors, B-Mirk Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BMPC), Fast Services Corporation, Bison Security and Investigation Agency, City Service Corporation, and Manchester Engineering, were found to be generally compliant with labor laws.

"In particular, BMPC was found to be compliant with general labor standards after submitting proof of compliance and refunding the unauthorized deductions for uniforms from 519 workers' salary amounting to P806,353.11 on March 15, 2018. BMPC also addressed its gaps in Occupational Safety and Health Standards," DOLE said.

The workers launched a strike in early June, claiming unfair labor practices. On June 14, violence erupted at the factory in Marilao, Bulacan when police attempted to break up the picket line.

CNN Philippines correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report.