NutriAsia denies manpower firm's alleged illegal contracting, subcontracting

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Workers on strike from NutriAsia form naew picket line two days after what they claim was a "violent dispersal" by the police.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 16) — NutriAsia, Inc., on Saturday denied that workers, who recently went on strike in their Marilao, Bulacan plant, were illegally contracted or subcontracted.

"Nutri-Asia, Inc. categorically denies claims that endo or "end of contract" is being practiced by its service provider/toll packer in Marilao plant. The Company agrees and supports the government's stand against endo and other illegal forms of contractualization," the firm said in a statement.

The company also said only a small number of the workers were urged by militant groups to go on strike.

"It is unfortunate that a minority of the employees of our Provider/Toller were cajoled, and joined by groups such as Kadamay, to commit prohibited activities against the client of their employer. For about two weeks, they managed to prohibit entry to and exit from the plant, which not only completely paralyzed operations but also disrupted the livelihood of their fellow workers," it added.

Labor groups also slammed the police for the "violent dispersal" of the strike in NutriAsia's Marilao factory on Thursday.

Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, acting Bulacan police chief, said members of urban poor group, Kadamay, joined the workers on strike and tried to break into the plant.

The labourers were on strike for 12 days to protest the company's alleged contractualization, low wages and unhealthy working conditions. They also called for the reinstatement of dismissed union leaders.

But NutriAsia claimed its manpower agency, B-Mirk Enterprises, is engaged in a legitimate business and observing security of tenure of its workers.

"Being the employer, the (B-Mirk Enterprises) has the management prerogative to assign its employees with various clients. In practice, however, as a concession to the employees, the (B-Mirk Enterprises) usually assigns them to a client which is close to their area of residence," said the statement.

NutriAsia also said B-Mirk Enterprises has valid and subsisting licenses, including certificates of registration from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under Department Order 174, or the implementing rules on illegal contracting and sub-contracting.

A February statement from DOLE, however, said NutriAsia and its three manpower agencies — including the B-Mirk group — were found violating labor laws and engaging in labor-only contracting, commonly referred to as contractualization. DOLE then ordered the firms to regularize 941 of their workers.

DOLE added it found some violations of Occupational Safety and Health Standards during their inspection. Other findings of the inspectors include violations of the general labor standards, such as underpayment of basic wages and other wage-related benefits.

The striking workers have returned on Saturday to hold a new picket line following their dispersal.