The campaign for the reinstatement of unfairly terminated union leaders at Coca-Cola Philippines continues to escalate nationally. Union members have sponsored a new billboard along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Manila to Pampanga. The billboard reads: “Save Coke Workers! CCBPI, REINSTATE Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda NOW!”
As the country locked down on March 15, 2020, and restrictions on movement were imposed, workers at the Coca-Cola plant in San Fernando, Pampanga province, were deeply concerned over the risk of infection following the death of a workers’ close relative to whom he had been exposed. In an emergency union meeting in the changing room on March 28, union leaders urged workers to comply with the government recommendations and stay home if they feared exposure or contaminating others, stating that they would respect workers’ individual decisions. Instead of recognizing these legitimate concerns over occupational exposure to COVID-19, management took disciplinary action against three union leaders, Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda.
Despite the fact that the right of workers to remove themselves from hazardous or dangerous situations without fear of punishment is protected under ILO Convention No.155, management ignored this right and terminated Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda for “economic sabotage”. Their termination was clearly an act of retribution by management against the local union and against Fred Marañon as the National President of the beverage workers’ federation, FCCU-SENTRO-IUF.