Hundreds of ‘yema’ workers complain of exploitation-A A +A
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
MORE than a thousand workers of a factory making ‘yema’ (custard candy) have complained to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in Northern Mindanao Region that they are working under the climate of fear with no assurance of getting paid.
In a letter sent to Dole-Northern Mindanao on January 24, the said workers pleaded for help for having been allegedly threatened to be sued in court if they would inform the government.
“Please help us, 800 people from Cagayan de Oro and almost 300 people outside the city who are working in fear… we are all scared and threatened that if we inform the government against Christian Gil Manufacturing (CGM), its legal counsel will sue us in the court,” the letter read.
The letter furthered that the workers were notified of not getting paid for two weeks by the company from its opening on January 20, 2014 if they failed to complete the contract that the employees signed.
The workers alleged that the contract was nothing but a mere three-page blank paper prepared by the partner of the company’s owner.
In another letter dated January 24, 2014 sent by an anonymous person to Dole-10, the terms and conditions of the contract were unreadable, and no copies of the contract were provided to the employees. It furthered that the workers were promised to get minimum wage during the training, but in reality they have no fixed salary because remuneration is based on the “purchase order and making of candies.”
In terms of work assignment, the letter stated that: “Walay klaro na trabaho matag empleyado.”
According to the letter, the strategy of the company is hire college graduates and appoint them as managers with a salary of P15,000 per month.
But it is also required that each manager should hire 45 people who must pay P1,800 for medical tests and P1,500 as an initial payment for the uniforms.
The same letter added that the workers were only given one polo shirt, but were promised three sets of working uniform.
“Uniforms promised are all lies, three sets of uniforms should be distributed but only one polo shirt was given to everyone and the uniform set amounts to P3,000,” the letter further read.
Based on the document given by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, the explanation for the P1,800 medical exam fee covers the following: The laboratory examination given is will secure and passed its test (sic); doctor’s fee is included in the package; the training of each factory worker, talent fee of the employees from CGM who facilitate the trainings; snack of (sic) all trainees during the orientation; lawyer notarial fees; venue of the seminar; travel expenses of the branch managers and talent fees and company ID expenses.
Atheneus Vasallo, officer in charge legal service unit of Dole-10, uniform payment before hiring is prohibited. Dole had a clarification hearing with medical service provider CGM and found out it is operating legally as it has permits do business from the Department of Trade and Industry and city hall.
“I cannot say the company is bogus,” Vasallo said referring to the permits.
Around 20 individuals each day have come to Dole to get the P3,300 they had initially paid to CGM, Vasallo said.
The letter furthered that the payment collected by the company is directly deposited in the owner’s account at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) located in Capistrano.
Rey Tagotongan, community affairs officer III of the PESO office confirmed the hiring conditions set in the contract.
Tagotongan reiterated that managers are given an incentive of P100 for new recruits.
“This is the reason why the number of employees multiplied in a short period of time,” said Tagotongan.
Tagotongan related that during the dialogue between the company and PESO, the firm’s owner argued he doesn’t recruit because it is the branch managers who do the recruitment.
Tagotongan said the applicants who complained at the PESO office said the structure is like a “pyramid scheme.”
“Based on testimonies from the complainants, the recruiters would just check the resumé and separate the college graduates from the undergrads,” said Tagotongan.
He reiterated that the recruiters would just pick automatically who will be supervisors and managers without going through the process of interviews and examinations.
The complainants said the company already conducted eight batches of trainings that consisted of around 50 to 100 applicants, he said.
If you hire someone, he or she should be subjected to an interview or examination, he said.
He added that the PESO is concerned with the method of hiring.
The January 24 letter to Dole-10 showed that the company is just 80 square meters located at the 2nd floor of a commercial space in Barangay Cugman.
With this, the workers in their letter, Vasallo said the company hired around 700 workers who could not fit the space rented out in Barangay Cugman.
“All workers who are doubtful about the job knowing that a company of 39 branches, as promised, must have a complete facility,” the letter further read.
Based on the photographs showed by PESO to this paper, the company used two huge frying pans for making ‘yema’ as the only product of the company.
The paper tried to interview the owner of CGM, including its lawyer, but failed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 29, 2014.