By Carmencita A. Carillo

Japanese company shuts down business due to strike

Posted on June 13, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- Japanese company Nakashin Davao International, Inc., engaged in the export of frozen fruits in Japan, Europe and other countries, has declared a shutdown and is set to formally file company closure with the Labor Department today after workers for the agencies contracted by the company conducted a picket and illegal strike in the company premises beginning April this year.

“We are finalizing the documents and will submit papers to the Department of Labor and Employment anytime,” Nakashin President Keisuke Nakao told BusinessWorld in an interview.

Mr. Nakao said the company has lost P140 million since the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the agency workers barricaded the company premises since May 26.

Nakashin has several regular workers holding technical and important positions in the company but has contracted two agencies namely Workstation and DBS Advance Concept, with almost 300 workers for certain work requirements.

However, the company did not renew its contract with the said agencies after its workers complained of salary delays and other related complaints. Nakashin has contracted a new agency on the condition that the said agency would absorb the workers of the previous agencies so they would not lose their jobs.

While 240 of these workers have continued to work for Nakashin under the new agency, there were 75 workers who pressured the new agency to retain them and their tenure or years of service with the previous agency.

Since this was unacceptable to the new agency, the 75 workers were fired. These are the same workers picketing the company, demanding reinstatement and regularization with Nakashin.

“But they are not Nakashin’s workers. They should address their complaints to the agencies where they used to work before,” Mr. Nakao said.

While the KMU and several of the 75 workers have put barricades preventing the entry and exit of workers in the company premises, it was noted that they have not filed any case with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) and are in fact conducting an illegal protest.

While Vice Mayor Paulo Z. Duterte has tried to mediate between the company and the protesting workers, and has urged the company not to close down yet for the sake of the 240 workers, Mr. Nakao said the company has already suffered so much losses.

Nakashin exports up to 2,500 tons of frozen mango, pineapple and other fruits to other countries every year but with the ongoing protest, the company’s foreign customers have canceled all their contracts with Nakashin which took years to negotiate and even threatened to sue Nakashin for breach of contract because of its failure to deliver.

The workers are not just the ones that will be affected by Nakashin’s closure as hundreds of farmers in Maguindanao also rely on the company’s business as it sources its fruits from the area.

Tension gripped workers and security guards at the Nakashin International, Inc. at noontime last week after Mr. Nakao took a hardline stance and tried to break the barricade in his frustration to stop the protesters from barring the entry of company workers.

However, KMU Secretary General Carlo Olalo said the group remains steadfast in supporting the workers’ demand for regularization and reinstatement.

The protesters are demanding the reinstatement of 75 workers who were illegally retrenched, the regularization of all long-term contractuals being employed by the company, and the full payment of the workers’ Service Incentive Leave and other underpaid benefits.

A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued against the workers two weeks ago but Nakashin’s request for an extension was denied by Judge Retrina E. Fuentes of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10.

Mr. Olalo earlier claimed these workers have been previously pressured by management to sign a quitclaim in exchange for P1,000 after they filed a case with the Labor Department for the company’s failure in giving them the proper benefits and not recognizing their regular status. The workers refused to sign the waiver as it would negate all their years of hard work with the company and place them under the management of a sub-contracting agency. Mr. Nakao said the quitclaim was an offer from the agency and no way is Nakashin involved in the offer.

“We want to explain that the TRO is illegal as this is a labor dispute already taken cognizance by the DoLE (Department of Labor and Management) and NCMB. Two DoLE-mediated meetings already took place and a bungled attempt by Vice-Mayor Duterte to reach a settlement. This means that a labor dispute exists. Therefore only the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) has exclusive jurisdiction over the Nakashin dispute and not the RTC,” KMU said.

This was disputed by Nakashin, which said no case was lodged either with DoLE or NLRC.