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Workers alliance lambasts state forces’ harassment on labor candidates

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 20, 2020

Defend Coca-Cola Workers PH condemned the interference of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the campaign period of Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa plant as their union elections draws near.

In their statement, the worker alliance explained that AFP and PNP were harassing labor candidates to back out from their campaign.

“Walang tigil ang mga elemento ng AFP/PNP kasabwat ang Kapitalistang Coke sa pananakot sa mga lider manggagawa upang bawiin ang pagtakbo bilang opisyales,” they said.

According to Defend Coca-Cola Workers PH, workers were also visited by state forces on their houses to not vote for Team Roger, whose candidates the AFP and PNP claimed to be involved in the activities of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The workers alliance stated that it is the way of the company to taunt workers on electing leaders fighting for their rights.

“Tila yata wala ng ibang pamaraan ang kapitalista at kahit sa panahon ng campaign period ay ayaw niyang bigyan kalayaan na ipractice ng mga miyembro ng unyon ang malayang pagkakampanya sa panahon ng Local Election,” the alliance explained.

Union busting during lockdown

There have been several attempts to silence workers during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

It started on April 6 when three to five individuals in civilian clothes visited the homes of the members of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Sta. Rosa Coca-Cola – Independent (UMDFPCC-IND), and forced them to surrender as rebel returnees under the Enhanced Community Livelihood Program (E-CLIP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

On April 23, nine plant workers were picked up by the police and brought to Camp Macario Sakay, where they were interrogated and were promised regularization if they stopped attending union activities (READ: https://bit.ly/2YjULkF).

A week after, 16 ‘rebel returnees’ were shown by the police to the media, with the involvement of Rey Medelin, a former labor leader turned state asset who identifies current union leaders and pinpoints their homes. However, labor center PAMANTIK-KMU certified that they are legitimate workers and not revolutionary elements (READ: https://bit.ly/2Cq16lD).

Cannot be silenced

Since the takeover of the current Coca-Cola union in 2015, contractual workers were regularized after their protest in 2017, the management of finances on union funds was fixed, wages and benefits are also actively negotiated through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The workers alliance explained that despite harassment that they receive from state forces, they will not tone down their fight for their rights.

“Sa ginagawang pananakot ng mga ahente ng AFP/PNP sa mga manggagawa, hindi mananaig kailanman ang atakeng pasismo sa hanay ng manggagawa at mananaig parin ang prinsipyo upang ipagtanggol ang nakakabuhay na sahod, benepisyo at kaseguraduhan sa trabaho.” they said. [P]

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