DOLE to issue ruling on labor dispute at NutriAsia factory

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Marilao, Bulacan (CNN Philippines, June 23) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will release next week its decision on which entity committed illegal contractualization at a NutriAsia factory in Marilao, Bulacan.

Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod said on Saturday that DOLE will re-evaluate its previous review that there was labor-only contracting at NutriAsia.

However, Maglungsod clarified the decision will not yet be final, as NutriAsia or the service providers could file an appeal.

"In the event na mag-a-appeal na ang management dito sa office of the Secretary, pabilisin din namin 'yan. Medyo priority 'yan kasi may dispute ngayon sa loob ng pagawaan [In the event the management would appeal before the Office of the Secretary, we will fast-track the review. It's one of the priorities at DOLE because there is a labor dispute in the factory]," he said.

Labor-only contracting or contractualization is prohibited in the Labor Code and DOLE order 174, or the implementing rules on three articles of the Code.

Contractualization refers to the outsourcing of work that is essential or a key role in a business operation.

It also refers to the hiring of employees from a contracting agency. For example, a manpower agency supplies security guards to companies that do not have substantial capital or investments in tools and supervision.

NutriAsia spokesperson Thelma Meneses said the workers are employees of third-party service providers. NutriAsia works with a total of six service providers here in its Marilao plant.

Meneses added they continue to work towards a peaceful resolution to this labor dispute.

READ: NutriAsia denies manpower firm's alleged illegal contracting, subcontracting

At least 150 workers remain at the picket line outside the plant, doing regular noise barrage. The striking workers have camped out for almost a month now.

"Hindi namin bibitawan ang picket na ito hangang walang binababa ang DOLE na regularization para sa amin. Na ang kahilingan naman ng mga manggagawa ay magkaroon ng kasiguraduhan sa trabaho at magkaroon ng sapat na sahod at karapatang mag-unyon," said Alivn Lascano, vice president of Nagkakaisang Mangagagawa ng NutriAsia.

[Translation: We won't leave the picket line until DOLE orders our regularization. Workers have been wishing to have security of tenure, sufficient salary and the right to form a union.]

He said workers will pitch tents for strikers sleeping at the camp, adding that some individuals and groups had provided help, including food, clothing and other supplies.