Some 30 employees of Pizza Hut chain, who claimed they were illegally terminated by the Philippine Pizza Inc. (PPI) allegedly owned by Jorge Araneta, stormed the pizza outlet head office in Cubao, Quezon City, on Tuesday to demand their reinstatement.
The Philippine Pizza Inc. Workers’ Union-Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Manggagawa (PPIWU-Kasama), in a statement, said “PPI regarded the Supreme Court (SC) decision of ‘regular status’ as null, therefore, an act of renouncing the rule of the highest court of the land and a direct challenge to the avowed thrust of the Duterte administration to end all forms of contractualization.”
“The PPIWU case is for us just a speck of a full-blown virus affecting the labor sector since the advent of the Herrera law that institutionalizes the contractualization scheme in almost all of the workplaces in the country, be they big, medium or small companies,” the labor group added.
The employees urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to arrest and detain Araneta for alleged violation of the SC decision ordering the reinstatement of 285 workers.
PPI is the mother company of Pizza Hut, a restaurant company with 70 branches nationwide.
Araneta is the uncle of Manuel Roxas 2nd and one of the biggest campaign fund contributors to his failed presidential bid in the May 2016 elections.
Araneta supposedly contributed P70 million to Roxas’ campaign coffers.
Ernesto Arellano of Legal Advocates for Workers’ Interest (Lawin), lawyer for the PPIWU-Kasama, said the PPI employees filed regularization cases before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in 2013.
On 23 February 2016, he added, the DOLE-National Capital Region (Metro Manila) declared all qualified voters for union certification election as regular employees of PPI.
“This decision was then upheld by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, then with finality by the Supreme Court,” Arellano said.
On September 1 and 5, the PPI-Kasama appealed to DOLE to guarantee the rights of the PPI employees to security of tenure, due process and self-organization by asking Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd to intervene in the case by stopping the termination of the PPI workers.
The PPI had issued memoranda informing regular employees that their employment had been terminated effective September 1, 2016.
Arellano said the PPI used a “weak and convenient alibi, saying the Service Agreement between Consolidated Building Maintenance Inc. and PPI had ended, thus, the workers are not legally its employees but of CBMI.”
Joel Odio, legal officer of Lawin, said research by another trade union center showed that eight big players in the service-oriented industry in 2015 employed 125,571 workers of whom a staggering 87 percent or 109,974 employees are under contract-only status.
“Of these, SM Malls owned by Henry Sy topped the list with 37,400 (97 percent) contractuals out of 38,600 workers, followed by Jollibee owned by Tony Tan Caktiong with almost the same rate as 28,000 (97 percent) contractuals out of 29,000 workers,” Odio added.