MANILA, Philippines – Pro-management and unionist workers of Zagu Foods Corporation clashed in front of the pearl shake maker’s Pasig factory gate late afternoon Monday, July 8, effectively destroying a month-long picket line established by workers on strike.
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) labor organizer Rafael La Viña said around 50 pro-management workers surrounded their picket line, forcing the union to form a human barricade of about 15 men and women. They also claimed scabs were part of the confrontation.
“Pinaabante nila ‘yung mga babaeng eskirol…pumasok doon sa side tapos nag-form ng line. Nag-form kami ng human barricade. Sabi nila, ‘tinutulak namin sila. Nananakit daw kami,” La Viña said. (They made the women scabs move forward…they came in over the [factory’s] side gate and formed a line. We formed a human barricade. They said that we pushed and hurt them.)
The union workers were not forced to leave Zagu’s outside premises, but pro-management workers gained control of Zagu’s factory gates and waiting shed, where the union had staged their picket line.
The clash happened following the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the National Labor Relations Commission, which prevented the union from blocking the factory gates.
The union members vowed, however, “Hindi kami aalis!” (We won’t leave.)
The blockade, according to labor organizers, was their way of bargaining with the management. Pro-Zagu employees argued, however, that they strike prevents them from going to work.
Workers from the union, Organization of Zagu Workers-Super, said that 15 policemen were dispatched to maintain order in the picket line, but stood by the side and did not interfere.
La Viña said that policemen only quelled the chaos after two hours, when workers and barangay officials were calling them amid the worsening chaos.
There were no report of injuries other than minor scratches.
Despite the dispersal, Organiza-Super president Shirley Fulgencio said the workers showed that their strength is in their principles.
“Nakita ng mga security guard at ng mga kasamahan ang lakas ng ating paninindigan, kaya natatakot na sila,” Fulgencio said. (The security guards and the pro-management workers saw the strength of our principles. So they became afraid of us.)
With the TRO, the union and the labor group are focusing on defending their allowed protest area so further confrontations with pro-management workers are avoided. They are staging boycott campaings against Zagu’s products. – Rappler.com
Enrico Berdos is a Rappler intern. He is a journalism student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
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