By ABHIE GANADO
MANILA – Nine illegally terminated Jollibee workers and other community members protested at the Jollibee Journal Square, following the filing of the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of a formal complaint against the fastfood company for labor violations.
The protest stemmed from the illegal termination of nine workers of a US branch of Jollibee.
In the complaint and notice of hearing Case No. 22-CA-320911, they demanded, among others, the reinstatement of the nine illegally terminated workers, back pay for lost wages, compensation for financial hardship, and a letter apologizing to the aggrieved workers.
“This journey to assert our rights has not been easy. But we remain determined. We continue to face all difficulties and challenges because we know that we are fighting for what is right,” said Keyser Garganera, one of the nine Filipino Jollibee workers in New Jersey.
The protest on Saturday kicks off a series of actions planned by the Justice for Jollibee Workers Campaign, which includes speakouts and flyering at various Jollibee locations across the US.
This will culminate in a protest action in time for the NLRB court hearing in Newark, New Jersey on Oct. 11, where Jollibee is expected to appear.
In a statement back in July, Jollibee’s office in North America said their Journal Square branch laid off workers due to their financial standing, citing a last in-first out basis as criteria for the dismissal of workers.
Members of the Justice for Jollibee Workers (J4JW), however, are not convinced, saying that the Journal Square branch hired 13 workers within the month of firing the nine workers.
“Jollibee is lying. They are lying to the workers. They are lying to the public. They are lying to the NLRB,” said one of the protesters.
The protest falls on the 58th anniversary of the start of the Delano Grape Strike in which more than 2,000 Filipino farm laborers in
California held a strike for higher wages, medical care, and retirement funds.
“The issues of Jollibee workers [are] not just their own. They are the issues of the entire community, the issues of our families to make a living to provide for our loved ones. They are the issues of Filipino youth, many of whom are workers. An attack against the Jollibee workers is an attack against us all, which is why, as Filipino youth, we must stand with the Jollibee workers,” Chrissi Fabro of the US-based Kabataan Alliance said.
Jollibee in the Philippines
In the Philippines, Jollibee workers are also waging the same fight.
In 2018, Rogelio Magistrado from the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Jollibee Foods Corp- Jollibee Worldwide Services Logistics, described how they were literally hostaged at a meeting to force them to avail of resignation packages.
There are those who signed away their 12, eight or four years’ record as contractuals in exchange for another contract and a Jollibee yum burger.
“Ninety-seven workers were illegally terminated in Jollibee. We put up a protest picket, but we were continually harassed. We became victims of President Duterte’s lies about ending ENDO (contractualization),” Magistrado said.
Jackelyn Mariano of Mission to End Modern Slavery pointed out that Jollibee “can afford to pay their workers a living wage.”
Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong has a net worth of $3.2 billion, making him the fifth richest in the Philippines.
J4JW said that they have documented a series of labor issues from Jollibee workers in the United States, the Philippines, and across the globe. Among them are low wage, chronic understaffing and scheduling issues, misclassification of workers, abuse of minors and worker mistreatment.
This, they added, while the company continues to make record profits.
“We will continue to hold protest actions for higher pay, safe working conditions, and the upholding of workers welfare. This is not just about Jollibee but in every workplace worldwide. I hope that my fellow Jollibee workers will also take a stand, organize, and fight,” Garganera said. (JJE, RTS, RVO)