Press Release
December 4, 2020

HONTIVEROS CALLS ON GOV'T TO INVESTIGATE MASS LAYOFFS AT DOLE PHILIPPINES

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to investigate the alleged irregularities surrounding the retrenchment of nearly 500 regular workers of Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil), one of the largest producers and exporters of fresh and canned pineapples.

"Nanawagan ako sa DOLE to immediately look into this case. Ngayong panahon ng pandemya, hindi natin pwedeng talikuran ang mga nawalan ng hanapbuhay lalo't may nakita silang iregularidad sa kanilang retrenchment," she said.

In a letter addressed to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Hontiveros cited that Dolefil, as reflected on their latest Annual Audited Financial Statements, has not suffered any substantial and imminent losses in recent years to legally retrench its workers. This is contrary to the claims of the company upon notifying the workers of their termination.

The mass retrenchment, according to Hontiveros, also appeared to have been done in bad faith as the company prioritized the termination of a significant number of regular workers instead of contractual employees.

"Nakakaalarma rin na sa kabila ng pagreregular nila sa nasa 5,000 employees noong 2018 bilang suporta sa kampanya ng gobyerno laban sa endo, nagpatuloy pa rin silang maghire ng contractual workers. This clearly belied the basis given for the retrenchment of its regular workers," she added.

The Senator also found it questionable that Dolefil filed the notice of retrenchment on 18 September 2020, three days after the actual termination of the workers on 15 September 2020.

Hontiveros then requested DOLE to promptly mediate between Dolefil and the retrenched workers to determine the company's possible violations of labor laws. She hopes this could bring forth a mutually-acceptable solution to prevent a more serious labor dispute.

Likewise, she also urged DOLE to look into other companies that might have been illegally dismissing their employees and ensure that the rights of the workers will not be undermined.

"DOLE's mandate is to ensure that employers are compliant with the requirements of our labor laws. Ngayong maraming negosyo ang naapektuhan ng economic recession, huwag nating hayaang masangkalan ang kapakanan ng mga manggagawa. At the end of the day, workers' welfare and rights should come first. They should always be our top priority," she concluded.

*Please see attached letter to DOLE

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