There is a growing call to boycott NutriAsia products from ordinary consumers, to progressive organizations, human rights activists, teachers, church people, the urban poor communities, netizens in the Philippines and outside. You may not know NutriAsia but you will know many of its products. These are the Pinoy popular condiments sold in many Filipino stores and found in Filipino kitchens.
You know these brands. Mang Tomas lechon sauce. Silver Swan soy sauce. UFC banana ketchup. Dati Puti soy sauce and vinegar. Jufran. Locally. Golden Fiesta. Open your kitchen cupboard and you probably have some of these in there.
The calls for boycott are over NutriAsia’s violation of labour rights and standards, its treatment of their workers, and the violent protest dispersals of the workers’ picketline by company security personnel and the Philippine National Police. The strike of the NutriAsia workers got more international attention when the photo of the bloodied face of Leticia Retiza, the injured grandmother at the picket line went viral. Leticia was supporting the picket line last July 30 when the attacks came from the police and company security. Nanay Leticia suffered a fractured skull and a broken nose.
The men and women workers under the United Workers of NutriAsia-Marilao have been on strike since the beginning of June. They are protesting the termination of 50 workers and the dismissal of five union leaders and members. They are also demanding regularization and an end to contractualization, for decent wages, better working conditions and the right to join and stay in a union. Since the strike began on June 2, the workers in the picket line have been harassed and attacked several times.
The workers at NutriAsia, like other workers, do not go on strike on a whim; these workers stand on just, legal and righteous grounds to demand and defend their rights as workers.
The workers of NutriAsia earn meager daily wages of P380 (USD$ 7). Only 100 out of 1,400 are considered regular permanent workers and the rest are contractual workers, regardless of their having worked in NutriAsia for many years. At least 914 workers of NutriAsia are under contract to three sub-contractors or agencies and have not been regularized.
NutriAsia Inc is a the multi-million dollar company based in Bulacan and owned by Filipino businessman Joselito Campos. It is the Philippines’ largest condiment manufacturer with at least P16.8 B (USD$320M) in total assets. It distributes and sells its condiment products in the Canada and US, Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. NutriAsia is a highly profitable company and earns as much as P27 million (over $500,000) per day!
NutriAsia has been found to be non-compliant with occupational health and safety standards and has failed to give regular employment to 914 of its workers.
The workers of NutriAsia continue their strike at great risk and at great sacrifice. These workers need our support and solidarity. While we cannot join the picket line like Nanay Leticia, we can certainly take the tiniest form of resistance against NutriAsia by saying “No” to Mang Tomas and Datu Puti. And to the other “bloody” brands of NutriAsia.
We can certainly survive without Datu Puti and Mang Tomas.