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Philippines: Masked men alleged to be Pepmaco guards attack protesting workers while asleep

A report alleged Pepmaco workers were attacked while resting outside company premises. It further alleged that the causes of the workers' protests were the company’s contractualization, mass termination, union busting, low-wages, 12-hour work days, and unsafe working conditions (that even lead to pregnant workers to suffer miscarriages).

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Pepmaco to respond to the allegations. The report and Pepmaco's response is linked below.

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Company response
14 July 2019

Response by Pepmaco


Pepmaco Manufacturing Corporation (Pepmaco for brevity) is a domestic corporation engaged in the manufacture of surfactants. It operates a manufacturing plant located at Airstrip St., Silangan Industrial Park, Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna.

Workers at the said plant are classified into 2 categories, the regular directly hired employees and those under legitimate, duly registered, independent contractors. A number of these individuals engaged by the said contractors however, believe that they should be considered regular employees of Pepmaco and claim certain benefits which are not due to them. Earlier this year, they formed their own local union, Pepmaco Workers Union (PWU) under the National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU). In an attempt to compel Pepmaco to give in to their demands, the PWU members were suspected of sabotaging company equipment and production in a number of incidents resulting to damage in property, such as the deliberate shutting down of machinery and equipment to cause underproduction and damage to the detergent bars, and the deliberate and malicious insertion of foreign materials into the machinery to cause breakdowns, necessitating expensive and costly repair work.

In a routine inspection relating to the above matter, the Regional Director of the Department of Labor (DOLE) Region IV-A issued an Order dated May 14, 2019, finding that Pepmaco and its contractors do not engage in labor-only contracting and are compliant with labor standards and the mandated safety conditions in the workplace.

Penultimately, Pepmaco ensures that it will continue to conduct its business with the highest level of integrity and conduct as well as with utmost regard to the protection of its employees and in full compliance with the requirements of the law.

Download the full document here

13 July 2019

Pepmaco guards attack sleeping workers, 12 injured

Author: Raymund Villanueva, Davao Today

28 June 2019

Men wearing face masks attacked two separate camps of striking Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation (Pepmaco) workers in Laguna...injuring 11 workers.

In an alert, the Pepmaco Workers Union said that hundreds of "goons wearing face masks and in full battle gear" arrived on board two vans and container vans and swooped down on their camps while most of them were resting or sleeping.

"They immediately swung with batons and fired jets of water at the workers who were prone on the ground," the union said.

"Not contented with their initial attack, Simeon Tiu's goons also threw big rocks at the workers," the workers said.

Tui owns Pepmaco, manufacturer of detergent brand Champion, as well as Systema toothpaste, Calla fabric conditioner, and Hana shampoo and hair conditioner.

Most of the workers suffered head injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital.

"The picket lines were destroyed, along with our food stash," the workers added.

...The workers launched their strike...complaining of mass termination, contractualization, union busting, low wages, 12-hour workdays, seven day workweeks and unsafe working conditions.

Earlier, the union posted photos of workers with skin injuries resulting from the harsh chemicals used in manufacturing the company's products.

Pepmaco workers' injuries while working in the factory.

Pregnant women also suffer miscarriages resulting from their unsafe working conditions, the workers complained.

The company has yet to issue any statement on the strike as well as on the attack on its striking workers.

Read the full post here

13 July 2019

Why Pepmaco workers are on strike

Author: Janess Ann Ellao, Bulatlat.com

28 June 2019

...Pepmaco workers have been on strike to assail their poor pay and dire working conditions.

Several media outfits...reported the company's failure to make them regular employees, despite working for at least 12 hours a day for the past 15 years. Apart from the poor pay they are receiving – about P373 a day – they are also reportedly deprived of mandatory benefits such as social security insurance, and on housing and health.

In an apparent effort to quell the workers' active call for the management to look into their concerns, at least 64 employees have been dismissed, including their union leaders. Among the most recent was the dismissal of another three workers early this month.

...[S]triking workers were attacked and dispersed while they were still asleep. Pepmaco Workers Union...said the company's security guards even took away personal belongings of the striking workers.

...[W]orkers...are left to work with toxic ingredients with practically bare hands. Workers have reported having skin and respiratory diseases.

...[W]orkers...are employed under a "labor only contracting" work scheme.

Read the full post here