Mediation on NutriAsia labor dispute to start Friday: DOLE

MANILA Talks aimed at resolving the dispute between condiments firm NutriAsia and its striking workers are set to start on Friday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he has directed the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) and the agency's Central Luzon regional office to act swiftly on the matter.

I instructed our NCMB and our regional director, director Zenaida Angara-Campita to expedite the conciliation. They scheduled it on Monday but I instructed them to pursue the talks. The conciliation process is tomorrow (Friday), 9 a.m. at the NCMB office, Bello said in an interview Thursday.

On the other hand, Bello said they are ready to answer questions from Senator Joel Villanueva, who is calling for a Senate inquiry on the NutriAsia issue.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, earlier said he would look into the results of the DOLE inspection on the condiments company.

We will be prepared to answer or address whatever concern Sen. Villanueva would like to ask, he added.

Meanwhile, a labor group has urged the DOLE to conduct an in-depth probe of the violent dispersal of the picket of NutriAsia workers and their supporters last Monday.

Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition is calling on Labor Secretary Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III to conduct a thorough investigation on the violent dispersal of the picket of NutriAsia workers and their supporters, Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition chairperson lawyer Sonny Matula said in a statement.

It is within your power to convene and activate the Tripartite Monitoring Body on freedom of association that should investigate, gather evidence and analyze information to determine who are accountable for the bloody incident that left scores injured and led to the unjust detention of 19 individuals, he added.

On Monday, some 300 NutriAsia workers and their supporters were violently dispersed by the security personnel of the company and the police.

The condiments firm, meanwhile, said some 200 striking workers of Toll Packer BMirk and their supporters sparked the violence when they allegedly fired a shot in the air and started to throw rocks at police and guards tasked to maintain peace and order.

The incident occurred three days after the DOLE instructed the non-striking majority of Toll Packers' employees to return to work.

"It is unfortunate that the strikers staged a violent attack while a DOLE-led mediation meeting among stakeholders, including the union organizer, was at the same time ongoing with the objective of seeking a peaceful settlement for the strikers," NutriAsia said in a statement released Monday.

The company also called out the strikers for allegedly using children and the elderly "as front-liners and human shields" in barricading the plant's entry points.

Source: Philippine News Agency