Labor groups score Regent’s move

By Leslie Ann Aquino

Labor groups on Tuesday scored Regent Food Corp.’s plan to move out of Pasig City.

Rene Magtubo, chairperson of the Partido Manggagawa, said the company’s plan to move out of Pasig showed their corporate values or lack of it when it comes to respecting workers’ rights as enshrined in the constitution and stipulated in the labor code.

"If only other local government officials emulate Mayor Vico’s (Sotto) view and stand against repression of workers’ rights, unscrupulous employers will not be given the privilege to do business and as a result of which, the country will soon have a sound and productive labor relations conducive to the sustainable development of the country’s economy," he said in an interview.

The food firm earlier said it is contemplating of bringing its business elsewhere after the Pasig City Mayor sided with some of the company's striking workers.

Alan Tanjusay, spokesman of the Associated Labor Unions Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said such plan of RFC was "regrettable" and expressed hope that the firm will rethink such decision.

"It is regrettable that RFC management decided to relocate their business just because the city mayor decided and did the right thing by supporting the oppressed workers and condemning injustice," he said.

Tanjusay added: The decision to relocate for these reasons is a sign of immaturity. We dissuade them from doing so because it’s not the right thing to do. I hope they think otherwise and rethink. There are positive ways forward than relocating their business.

Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro, reminded Regent that it would have to respect workers’ rights wherever they go.

"If the company can’t live with that reality, then it is free to do its business in some other country where workers’ rights are not respected at all," he said.

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he was the one who referred the labor protest situation in Regent's main plant in Pasig City to authorities after the management complained to him.

"Well when you picket as an exercise of a constitutional right of a worker, you are allowed to do that. To demonstrate and air you grievances but you should not prevent the ingress or egress of the people inside the premises. So the management complained to me so I referred it to the PNP since it is already a police matter and not a labor case because there is already an ongoing mediation before our NCMB (National Conciliation and Mediation Board) and there is also a case pending before the NLRC (National Labor Relation Commission)," he said in an interview.

More than 20 people were arrested by the Pasig City Police last month for their alleged involvement in the labor strike at the food firm.