Milling plant's ex-workers cry harassment

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013


STRIKING workers of the First Farmers Holding Corporation (FFHC) in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, cried for harassment Monday against village watchmen and scabs allegedly hired by the company.

Virgilio Salazar Jr., one of the workers and member of the First Arastre Stevedoring Services Employees Union, said they were attacked by scabs and barangay tanods allegedly last Thursday in an attempt to destroy their picket line and disperse the striking workers.

He said the around 40 scabs and tanods (village watchmen) were armed with knives and stones.

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He said in a press conference at the Negros Press Club on Monday that a melee ensued between the tanods and their group that had tried to defend their picket line, resulting in the injuries of two members and a bystander near a sari-sari store who was hit by a wayward stone.

The union official said he was also assaulted by one of the attackers and was almost stabbed.

He said some of their attackers, particularly those throwing stones, came from inside of the compound of the milling plant.

Salazar said they tried to counter with the attackers coming from the compound but they were pacified and threatened by the company guards, who told them they will be shot if they do so.

Salazar said prior to last Thursday's assault on the picket line, the FFHC management had used personnel from the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Group (RMG), Cafgus and tanods from Barangay Dos Hermanas and Barangay Concepcion in harassing them.

He also said that since day one of their picket, the management had set up police outpost near the gates of the milling plant and had even converted the nearby hall of Dos Hermanas as temporary detachment for the RMG personnel.

The union, for almost two months, had been staging a strike to protest their alleged union busting by means of terminating en masse the services of all its union members.

"We had been demanding to be reinstated back to work as regular employees of FFHC and to be paid the daily prescribed minimum wage rates and to be recognized as the sole and exclusive bargaining representatives of all rank and file workers which were recruited, placed and supplied by First Arastre and Stevedoring Services," said Salazar.

The management of FFHC had denied any liabilities on the striking workers, claiming they were never their employees but of a manpower firm that supplied workers for its sugar and molasses section. (TDE)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 08, 2013.

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