Meycauayan police arrest workers, youth, journalists in violent NutriAsia strike dispersal

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Leticia Espino, a member of urban poor group Kadamay, is among the injured in the violent dispersal. Photo by League of Filipino Students.

Workers, youth leaders and journalists were among the individuals arrested at the NutriAsia workers’ strike following a violent dispersal led by the combined forces of the condiment company’s security personnel and the Meycauayan City police earlier this afternoon.

Immediately following an ecumenical service for 300 NutriAsia workers and supporters, around 100 police and NutriAsia security personnel proceeded with the dispersal at around 3 p.m. by closing in on the picket line, hitting protesters with sticks and throwing rocks and hollow blocks.

The violent dispersal took place despite ongoing negotiations between the management and union Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa NutriAsia. A hearing at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) was also scheduled today.

At least 20 have been injured and wounded from the dispersal, with at least two brought to a nearby hospital due to critical condition.

Leticia Espino, a member of urban poor group Kadamay, has been photographed with blood over her mouth and blouse as security personnel of NutriAsia continued to harass her despite the injuries she sustained during the dispersal.

During the dispersal, at least 19 individuals were confirmed to have been arrested by the Meycauayan police and are currently detained at the Meycauayan City Police Station, League of Filipino Students (LFS) spokesperson Kara Taggao said. NutriAsia’s security personnel also confiscated all the materials of the picket line.

Anakbayan secretary-general Einsten Recedes, LFS deputy secretary-general Mark Quinto, UP College of Science student Jon Bonifacio, members of alternative media outfits Kodao Productions and AlterMidya, and members of Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa NutriAsia were among the 19 arrested.

Meycauayan City Police Chief Supt. Santos Mera have accused the arrested individuals of instigating violence that led to the dispersal. He also claims to have recovered illegal drugs and firearms from those arrested during the dispersal.

Progressive youth groups held indignation protests at Mendiola and near the Meycauayan City Police Station to condemn the violent dispersal and arrest of youth leaders. Meycauayan police have threatened to arrest protesters in front of the police station. Media personnel are also being barred from the police station.

In a statement, AlterMidya condemned the arrest and violence against journalists covering the strike, urging “to condemn the violent dispersal of the NutriAsia workers strike and the attack on our member journalists. Such an assault violates freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) secretary-general Jerome Adonis said that the dispersal is illegal and that “it is yet another display of the fascist character of the Duterte regime.”

“All this violence is a result of Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise to end contractualization,” Adonis continued.

The KMU secretary-general further decried the illegal intervention of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court, which supposedly ordered police intervention in the strike. Labor disputes are only settled through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), NCMB and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

NutriAsia workers have been demanding fair wages, benefits, safe working conditions and regularization from the condiments company since they started their strike near the company’s Marilao plant last June 2, after over 50 contractual workers were terminated.

DOLE Regional Office 4A Director Zenaida Angara-Campita has ordered NutriAsia to regularize around 1,000 of its contractual workers after the department ruled that company and its contractors Alternative Network Resources Unlimited Multipurpose Cooperative, Serbiz Multi-Purpose Cooperative and B-Mirk Enterprises Corporation were violating labor laws and general labor standards, and –engaged in illegal labor-only contracting schemes.

NutriAsia has refused to comply with DOLE’s compliance order.

Photos and videos from Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students

 

 

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