The May First Movement (KMU), a militant union in the Philippines, has announced a stepped-up campaign against the Nestle Corporation to settle a seven-month strike by ice- cream workers in Quezon City. The union has called for international solidarity with the Nestle workers during the week of Aug. 11-15.
The workers at Magnolia-Nestle Philippines Inc., Ice Cream and Chilled Products Division, walked off the job Jan. 12 after the company fired eight unionists and suspended 200 others. Since then, 129 workers have been fired while the company refuses to attend mediation sessions. Cops and security guards attacked picketing workers on at least two occasions.
The KMU and the New Patriotic Alliance have called for pickets outside Nestle offices during the week beginning Aug. 11. Scores of labor organizations both in the Philippines and around the world are backing a boycott of all Nestle products. They demand that Nestle immediately reinstate all the dismissed workers without loss of seniority and end its union-busting activities.
On July 28, KMU Chairperson Crispin Beltram told a crowd of 20,000 protesters in Quezon City that the union would use all means, "both constitutional and unconstitutional," to insure that President Fidel Ramos does not serve another term. Ramos' term expires in 1998.
"It is not only Ramos that we oppose," Beltram said. "It's the puppetry that he stands for, the puppetry that has resulted in the sell-out of our national patrimony and sovereignty, the puppetry that has given nothing but poverty, lies and violence."
The Philippine economy has been hit hard by an 11-percent devaluation of the peso and price gouging by oil companies like Shell and Petron. "The oil price hike effectively debunked the notion of economic progress proclaimed by Ramos in his state of the nation address" on July 28, according to the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights.
Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, concluded in a July 17 statement, "The Ramos regime has deepened and aggravated the underdeveloped semifeudal character of the Philippine economy and has intensified the exploitation of the Filipino people by the foreign multinational firms and banks and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords, under the neocolonial and neoliberal policies of denationalization, deregulation, privatization and liberalization of trade and investments."
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