CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Provincial Board (PB) vowed Monday to assist and monitor the plight of some 112 workers of San Miguel Corporation (SMC)’s Magnolia Products Division here who were put on terminal leave last January 4.

The giant food conglomerate has reportedly outsourced casual workers to replace the regular employees to save on labor costs.

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The firm has allegedly offered early retirement benefits to the terminated Magnolia workers but the employees have stayed on their picket line near the gates of the company, even if they have already met with the management’s representatives thrice facilitated by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

Last week, the workers led by their Spokesperson Teodoro Matapaha and SMC union leader Ronald Arciga sought an audience with the PB and Vice-Governor Joseller “Yeng” Guiao to ask for assistance and intervene in their case.

But it was only on Monday during the regular session that the workers were able to personally air their grievances.

He told Sun.Star Pampanga that there are arbitration laws that have to be followed in monitoring the plight of the workers.

“Kailangan nating makita na ang kanilang mga karapatan ay sinusunod ng employer at Department of Labor and Employment. Ito ay pagpapalakas ng karapatan ng manggagawa. Of course, may karapatan din ang employer pero kailangan nating mabalanse ito at sundin ang nasa batas,” Guiao said.

He said the PB will invite all parties involved in the issue to an en banc committee hearing and said: “Kami ay nasa likuran nila (employees) at gusto natin silang tulungan at hindi sila maabuso.”

Second District Board Member and Association of Laborers and Employees (ALE) party list founder Catalina Bagasina echoed the same sentiments as she vowed to help the workers in her capacity as a legislator focusing on labor issues and employees’ welfare.

First District Board Member and the PB’s chair of the Committee on Human Resources Tarcicio Halili corroborated Bagasina’s statements and said that a formal complaint should be lodged by the workers at the PB so it could be acted upon.

“After we approve the annual budget, we can already act on their grievances and include it in the agenda. But we must receive a formal complaint from them (employee) first,” Halili said.

The veteran legislator on human resources added: “In aid of legislation we will investigate on what we can do to help these poor workers. We will see to the protection of their rights even though these are sufficiently covered by our labor laws. We will call them to a hearing and meeting to evaluate thoroughly their case and situation. But for sure we at the PB will find a way to assist them according to our laws and powers as a legislative body.”