FOOD MANUFACTURER Regent Foods Corp. (RFC) is considering moving its operations out of Pasig after the city’s mayor, Victor “Vico” N. Sotto, publicly supported a strike staged by some of its workers.

In a post on its social media page, RFC criticized Mr. Sotto, who helped the 23 workers post bail after they were arrested on Nov. 9 following a violent dispersal at the picket line.

The mayor also asked the company to drop the charges against the 23 workers and work out the dispute. The company, on the other hand, questioned the legitimacy and peacefulness of the strike.

“Unfortunately, for the information of the general public, a minority group at RFC was able to conduct a strike recently, although the same was done outside the confines of the law,” RFC said.

“It had no legitimacy from the beginning since there is an existing sole and exclusive bargaining agent within the company. On top of this, the strikers also committed criminal activities during the conduct of their unlawful strike,” it said. RFC, which has been located in Pasig for three decades, said it “will not be cowed by the mayor’s threats.” “Moving forward, RFC may simply accept its fate that the Pasig City Administration will unjustly make life hard for it and its 400-strong workforce, and contemplate simply bringing its business elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, labor groups criticized the RFC comments and warned that countercharges will be filed against the company for unfair labor practices, abusive acts, and violent dispersal at the protest.

Defend Job Philippines, Regent Food Workers Union, and Unyon ng Manggagawa sa RFC called the company’s comments as false claims.

The labor groups said RFC workers, who went on strike starting Oct. 16, are protesting low wages, unpaid benefits, and union busting, among other issues. “No amount of defensive statements and baseless attacks against Mayor Vico can justify the long-drawn hardships of Regent workers for almost three decades of existence of this company,” Defend Job Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy said.

In a separate statement, Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines spokesperson Alan Tanjusay slammed RFC’s plan to relocate their business.

“It is regrettable that RFC management decided to relocate their business just because the city mayor decided and did the right thing by supporting the oppressed workers and condemning injustice,” he said.

“The decision to relocate for these reasons is a sign of immaturity. We dissuade them from doing so because it’s not the right thing to do. I hope they think otherwise and rethink. There are positive ways forward than relocating their business.” — Jenina P. Ibañez