The bloodied face of this striking woman has aroused anger around the world against NutriAsia.

Updated: 1:49 PM, August 1, 2018

Philippines

Violent dispersals spark boycott calls

By Ted Alcuitas

Filipinos including netcitizens have rallied to support striking workers of the food manufacturing giant NutriAsia calling for a massive boycott of their products.

The company manufactures popular condiments Jufran banana ketchup, Datu Puti vinegar, and Mang Tomas all-purpose sauce, used as a dip for the iconic lechon.

According to reports the company reached record sales in 2014, exceeding its sales target of P10 billion pesos (US 187 million dollars). 

The company, owned by heirs of former Marcos crony Jose Campos,Jr. is notorious for the maltreatment of its workers. 

The recent violent dispersals, all captured and reported in video has opened up questions whether the company is following government regulations.

Last February, the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE directed NutriAsia to give regular employment to 914 of their workers. The order cited a number of violations including the exercise by the company of full authority over the deployed workers in the performance of their assigned jobs, as well as the lack of substantial capital on the part of the contractors as evidenced by the employees’ use of the principal’s equipment and tools in performing their outsourced services.”

Even after President Duterte signed an Executive Order to end “endo”, or end of contract (which refers to the short-term contracts given to workers, denying them job security & added benefits), violence erupted outside a NutriAsia factory in Bulacan province where workers were on strike regarding endo, low wages, and other concerns.

Despite this, ABSCBN listed some of the demands the workers had:

  • NutriAsia to recognize workers union.
  • Regularization, complete employee benefits.
  • Hire back employees who were illegally dismissed.

 

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Infographics by the National Union of Students of the Philippines or NUSP.

NutriAsia in 1991 entered joint ventures that acquired it Jufran, Datu Puti, and Mang Tomas brands among others. Brands that are enjoyed by Filipinos at home and abroad.

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List of brands on the NutriAsia website as of June 16, 2018.

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Examples of banana ketchup you can find instead of the mainstream Jufran or Papa products, which are NutriAsia brands.

Filipino food chain Max’s has its own line of banana ketchup. Photo from Max’s Facebook.

Cartoon by Paul Eric Roca

But if we boycott these products, then the workers will have no jobs!

According to bloggers Kris de Kapre, boycotts throughout history have indeed required sacrifice by both workers and consumers.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted from 1955 to 1956. After African-American Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person under America’s harmful segregation laws, her arrest sparked a boycott of buses throughout the city of Montgomery. After more than a year of turmoil, dependence on community carpools and transportation, and after strong segregationist opposition, including the bombing of Martin Luther King Jr’s home, prolonged national attention saw the striking down of segregated buses.

The Delano Grape Strike and Boycott started after Pangasinanse Larry Itliong led Filipino farm workers on a strike against grape growers, protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos then united with Latinos under Cesar Chavez and created a new union: The United Farm Workers, which then started a table grape boycott. Union members traveled nationwide organizing mass support for it. The whole ordeal lasted 5 years, with Chavez strictly implementing non-violent means. He partook in a near-fatal fasting where he lost 35 pounds in 25 days, while union members lost almost everything. By 1970, the boycott succeeded, and table grape growers gave workers better pay, benefits, and protections.