COVID-19 Watch News Southern Tagalog

Hundreds of Jollibee subsidiary employees lose jobs amid pandemic

A not-so-jolly ending for contractual workers, after all.

Hundreds of contractual laborers under the Zenith Foods Corporation, a Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) subsidiary, might lose their jobs in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic after the Staff Search Asia Service Cooperative (SSASC) announced that they will have a permanent lay-off of employees as they reasoned out that their business suffered major economic losses.

According to a memorandum issued by the cooperative, the lay-off of their line employees took into effect last July 1, 2020, as a result of Zenith’s decision to not continue their contract with the service cooperative.

“Sa kasalukuyan, ang pananatili ng inyong servisyo sa Zenith Foods Corporation ay maaring magdulot lang ng higit pang pagkalugi ng ating kooperatiba dahilan sa ang linya na kung saan ikaw ay nakatalaga ay wala na sa atin, at wala na ding bakante sa ibang linya,” SSCA stated.  

The SSCA management also explained that they cannot reposition the displaced workers as there are no available companies at the time of writing that will match their job skills and qualifications.

Moreover, they also promised the displaced workers that they will receive compensation such as separation pay, last month’s salary, and 13th-month pay, and other benefits that are mandated by law, not later than August 30. They will also get a refund of their share capital contribution and capital build-up and deposit. 

The company’s issue on contractualization

Zenith Foods Corporation, according to the JFC website, is a Jollibee subsidiary that operates the Laguna commissary of their food brand. Its production lines are in charge of manufacturing goods like Chicken Joy, other meat products, breads, sauces, and dry blended goods. It is the biggest commissary in the country and can service more than 800 Jollibee and Greenwich stores.

In a 2018 report published by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the country’s largest fast-food operator was tagged by the labor departments as the number 1 company that engaged and suspected to be engaged in labor-only contracting, with 14,960 affected workers.

The company vowed to regularize 3,000 individuals per year, however, DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello III was unimpressed and wanted the company to add more individuals on the list.

To address the issues with contractualization, the congress passed the anti-endo bill in 2019, nonetheless, it was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte himself, who promised to end contractualization at the start of his term.

Losing livelihood amid health crisis

The permanent lay-off was condemned by labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – KMU (PAMANTIK-KMU), as the permanent lay-off happened during the pandemic wherein government assistance is scarce to almost none.

The labor center also mentioned that the company started to not give schedules to the workers, after the workers received P3,000 as a result of their assertion to financial assistance due to almost two months of no work. Almost 300 individuals might lose their jobs because of the layoff.

In addition, PAMANTIK-KMU stated that the said action can be considered as opportunistic, as they have received reports that ZFC is replacing them with other manpower agencies.

They also urged the company to regularize 800 contractual workers, conduct free mass testing and shoulder the costs for the treatment of those who tested positive for COVID-19. [P]

Photo by Adam Ang/Bulatlat

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