Feedmill stevedores slam newly-minted restraining order

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As the Duterte administration approaches its first six months in office, more issues on labor rights encroach the workers; and the now-three-month strike in Batangas remains in pending resolution.

Porters on strike at the Soro-Soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) feedmill in Batangas expressed indignation over the recently-minted temporary restraining order (TRO) from the labor department, which directed the free entry and exit of products and raw materials in the feedmill.

The order, which came from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), allowed egress and ingress of SIDC products for a span of twenty days. SIDC officials and its legal team have sent their prayer to extend the order indefinitely.

Meanwhile, this only meant more opportunities for SIDC – considered to be the top cooperative in the country – to ignore the calls of the workers for regularization. The porters were employed for years in DCMM Manpower Services, a labor agency confirmed to be doing illegal labor-only contracting and was given a cease-and-desist order by DoLE weeks ago.

The last dialogues among workers and SIDC management only prompted the latter to offer the workers to be regularized inside the DCMM agency, which has not updated its permit for almost three years now.

The militant regional labor center PAMANTIK-KMU, which supported the strike of the stevedores at SIDC, called on the labor department to side with the workers.

“DoLE must draw the line between appeasing big businesses like SIDC and in responding to the needs of its workers. The former only loses business capital; the latter, potentially loses their livelihood,” said Allan Bagas, PAMANTIK-KMU secretary-general.

“The NLRC order also means the eventual permit for the private goons – or scoundrels – of SIDC to terrorize the workers in hopes of dismantling the picket line. If NLRC and DoLE would want to have industrial peace, it must begin so by forcing the SIDC management to sit down and discuss thoroughly, and not use brute force to settle disputes,” he added.

Just earlier, 100 policemen arrived at the feedmill, raising fears of dispersal at the picket line, until the NLRC order was served. Prior to this, about 2 recorded cases of dispersal was noted, with one instance had security guards firing warning shots with their service firearms.

Even with these challenges, the workers vowed to carry on with the fight for regularization.

“We know that the hardline capitalists endlessly put their interests near their hearts; an interest obvious in the labor department for the past years. For this, we continue in our march and in our protests to end contractualization,” ended Bagas. # # #

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