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Senate inquiry into PLDT, NutriAsia labor issues sought

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SENATOR Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva — INTERAKSYON

THE SENATE Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development is seeking an inquiry into regularization issues of employees from PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and Nutri-Asia Inc. (NutriAsia).

Committee Chair Senator Joel B. Villanueva filed Senate Resolution No. 810 on Tuesday which seeks to “conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the status of regularization of workers with a view to addressing the gaps in the law on enforcement and compliance that facilitates discord and violence similar to situations of the PLDT and Nutri-Asia workers.”

“PLDT and NutriAsia are the more prominent cases on enforcement and compliance issues, and there are more cases of similar nature all over the country,” Mr. Villanueva added in a press statement on Tuesday. “We need to investigate because these cases highlight the weaknesses of our current regulatory framework. They emphasize the need for the Security of Tenure Bill that we are going to deliberate in the Senate floor in the coming weeks.” 

PLDT has been ordered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to regularize more than 7000 of their contractual workers. The telco company was also ordered by the labor department to pay a total of P51,801,729 worth of monetary benefits to more than 2000 of their employees.

DoLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III issued a clarificatory order last July 11 to further firm their orders for PLDT to regularize their workers. PLDT released a manifestation last week that questioned the validity of the order issued by Mr. Bello.

“It would do good to the image of PLDT, a major telco company, to already start the regularization process of more than 7,000 workers ordered to be regularized by the DOLE. To continue the legal maneuverings and conditionalities would only create a negative corporate image of PLDT being a violator of labor laws,” Mr. Villanueva said.

On the other hand, NutriAsia was discovered to be involved in labor-only contracting activities last March. This was then followed by a strike by NutriAsia’s workers which has ended up in arrests of 23 people and injured protesters. Last Monday, another violent strike happened with 300 protesters against the company.

NutriAsia issued a statement last July 5 that it will appeal against DoLE Region 3’s ruling that the company should regularize 80 of their workers under their AsiaPro Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AsiaPro) arrangement. 

“It is regrettable that the NutriAsia case rooted on contractualization and its abuses, has to drag and result in termination of workers, violent dispersals of picket lines, injuries and arrests of workers. It would serve the best interests of labor and capital to resolve this dispute peacefully and expeditiously,” Mr. Villanueva said.

PLDT and NutriAsia did not respond to requests for comments as of this writing.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — G.M. Cortez





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