by Ghio Ong – The Philippine Star, 19 Dec 2021
MANILA, Philippines — Forty-four employees of a Valenzuela firm who were arrested on Wednesday night for going on strike were released from jail after 36 hours, their lawyer said yesterday.
Luke Espiritu, who represents the workers, said his clients were charged with illegal assembly, disobedience to a person in authority and alarm and scandal.
The city inquest prosecutor previously ordered the city police to release them pending further investigation.
Espiritu also said pasta producer Soft Touch Development Corp. should cancel its plan to fire the employees for merely organizing a labor strike.
The firm maintained that the employees are prohibited from forming a labor union because their employer is the manpower agency that hired them, according to Espiritu.
He added that companies continue to tap manpower agencies as “shields against labor unions,” a practice that could deprive workers of their rights. He explained this has been a recurring issue involving the practice of enforcing short-term work contracts.
In a video Espiritu uploaded on Twitter, police officers were seen using water cannons and truncheons on the employees, who staged the strike after learning they would be laid off on Dec. 24.