Sunday, May 15, 2005

NR0516:Congress should investigate Danding and SMC

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 16, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon challenges Congress to investigate Danding Cojuangco's exploitative management of San Miguel Corporation; says the latter backed by Arroyo administration

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today turned the spotlight anew on former Marcos crony, business tycoon Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, saying that the man was behind the most anti-labor attacks in recent Philippine history. Beltran said that Cojuangco was virtually rewriting labor laws in San Miguel Corporation (SMC), and he was being allowed to do by the labor department and the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. Over 200,000 workers are reportedly affected by the series of contractualization and union-busting schemes in SMC.

"Danding is constantly expanding his business empire and fattening himself and his executives with gargantuan salaries - all the expense of the SMC employees. Neither has the Macapagal-Arroyo admistration been able to wrest the control of the coco levy shares Cojuangco stole from the coconut farmers and ploughed into SMC. Cojuangco's business practices and his continuing ownership of large shares of SMC should be investigated. The fact that he remains untouchable is a testament to how slow and maybe even hopeless the justice system of the government is," he said.

Stockholders of food, beverage and packaging giant San Miguel Corporation (SMC) will convene tomorrow, May 17 for their Annual Stockholders Meeting; and as they do, employees from the various SMC companies will hold protests against Cojuangco's anti-worker policies in the company, ranging from union busting, labor contractualization and gross violation of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and finally to imposing a no-wage hike policy during the first year of implementation of CBAs.

SMC workers union Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM) decried the Cojuangco management's implementation of the no-wage increase for the first year of CBA and various forms of trade union repression including refusal to recognize legitimate workers' unions and refusal to bargain with the SMC Manila Chapter and Monterey Farms.

Beltran said that Cojuangco was running the SMC like his own kingdom were the only rules and laws in place were his. "Cojuangco is getting away with his countless violations of labor laws because he enjoys the patronage and support not only of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) but of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself who is strongly alleged of having entered a multi-million compromise agreement with Cojuangco over the controversial coco levy funds," he said. "SMC is among the country's Top 12 corporations, and Cojuangco himself earns an annual income to P231.5 million in salaries, bonuses and other incentives. For all this, however, SMC workers are among the most exploited and their labor rights the most abused."

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that political compromises and concessions between the Arroyo government and Cojuangco involving the coco levy fund, now estimated to have reached P130 billion, were clandestinely forged since the President assumed power in 2001. In July 2003, Sen. Joker Arroyo also accused that "Malacanang and Cojuangco have come to terms over the coco levy funds, San Miguel and United Coconut Planters Bank."

Beltran called the attention of the House Committee on Labor on the SMC management's comprehensive campaign to negate CBAs in several SMC companies. He said the SMC management is taking back its health benefits for workers as well as other benefits previously enjoyed by SMC workers. Retrenchment of regular workers continue to intensify due to the company's retirement program, contractualization and redundancy.

"Workers have suffered enough under Cojuangco's corporate management. The company is enforcing the most terrible efforts to cut back the regular workforce only to replace with contractual workers who are receiving lower wages and are not entitled to join unions and participate in CBAs. Militant labor unions under SMC endure constant suppression. The management sequestered the union fund of SMC Manila chapter since 2002. Nineteen workers from the Manila Glass Plant and Polo Brewery were arrested at work after they were charged with various administrative and criminal cases by the management," he said.#


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