“No room for unfair labor practice in Valenzuela”
“There can be potentially more ‘Russels’ out there in that company that can be further victimized if we do not suspend the operation. Public welfare comes into play all the time and it is my responsibility to make sure that no one suffers the same fate again,” — Valenzuela City Mayor REX Gatchalian
The issue made rounds on social media this Monday, June 28, when Valenzuela City Mayor REX Gatchalian met with the representative of Nexgreen Enterprise and Mr. Russel Mañoza, the complainant, after receiving a complaint that the company allegedly paid Mañoza with centavo coins worth PhP 1,056 as a two-day salary.
“Nakaka-insulto at nakakawala ng dignidad ([It is] insulting and it loses [a person’s] dignity),” Mayor REX said as the centavo coin-pay incident also taps into issues of unfair labor practice by business owners, in this case, Nexgreen Enterprise, a factory based in Barangay Canumay West with a line of business in trading and plastic recycling.
The PhP 1,056-worth of centavo coins in 5- and 10-centavo denomination does not comply also with the limit of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP’s) “legal tender” under BSP Circular No. 537, Series of 2006.
The circular states, “In the case of coins in denomination of 1-, 5-, and 10-Piso they shall be legal tender in amounts not exceeding PhP 1,000.00 while coins in denomination of 1-, 5-, 10-, and 25-Sentimo shall be legal tender in amounts not exceeding PhP 100.00.”
Mr. Russel Mañoza believes that he was paid in centavos as he drew ire from the owner, Mr. Jasper Cheng So, after reporting the company to the barangay to make sure that they will receive their salary on schedule. The barangay escorted Mañoza and four (4) other employees on the day they are scheduled to receive their remaining salary, but Mañoza was told to go back the next day.
Mañoza went back to Nexgreen the next day where he received the centavo coins on a tray. When Mañoza asked if he can have paper bills instead, “Ipapalit mo nalang sa bangko, (Just have it exchanged at the bank)”, he was told.
So and Mañoza finally met during Wednesday’s press conference. With Mayor REX mediating the discussion, So has initially admitted the fault and takes “full responsibility” but denies that paying Mañoza in centavos was done intentionally as the coins were meant for religious purposes.
“Yung [The] coins hindi naman [are not] intended sa kanya [for him]… Regardless kung nagkamali man [if it was a mistake] or what, it is my command of responsibility… Hindi na ako magco-contest… Hindi naman sinasadya na ibigay sa kanya, hindi talaga, (I will not contest… It was not intentionally given to him, it was really not),” So explained.
But for Mayor REX, “It does not look like it is an accident. Kasi una, nagkaroon kayo ng alitan. Na-barangay kayo, nagalit ka. Pinabalik mo siya ng Sabado tapos nagkataon lang na noong Sabado coins ang ibabayad sa kanya at barya? Parang napaka-coincidental naman.”
(First, there was a dispute. You were reported to barangay and you went mad. You told him [Mañoza] to go back on Saturday and it is by chance that only coins were available for him? That is very coincidental.)
The City Government of Valenzuela issued a suspension on Nexgreen’s business permit this June 30, with the centavo coin-pay issue serving as a precursor to investigating the company’s other labor issues.
Mayor REX further clarifies that the move was “to prevent Nexgreen from causing further harm to employees and that there are blatant labor law violations.”
Under the Stop Order issued by the City’s Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO), Nexgreen shall comply with the following in fifteen (15) days: 1) Violation of Mayor’s Permit, 2) Violation of Waiver/ Undertaking, 3) Violation of Article 19 of the Civil Code of the Philippines in relation to BSP Circular No. 537, Series of 2006, 4) Violation of Labor Code, and 5) Violation of legislations for non-coverage of SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG Fund.
Additionally, Nexgreen was also given notice on other issues in five (5) days namely, their change of business address from Mapulang Lupa to Canumay West, the need to submit building, occupancy, electrical, electronics, and mechanical permits, locational clearance, sanitary permit to operate, and clearances and registration with SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG.
“Hindi naman tayo aabot sa ganito kung binayaran niyo ako ng maayos… Sana ayusin niyo na ‘yung pagpapasahod sa mga tao, (We would not get to this point if you paid me properly… I hope you pay your employees well),” Mañoza said.
Mañoza is also expected to receive a proposed consolidated amount of PhP 55,614.93 for non-payment of overtime pay, holiday pay, separation pay, and underpayment of salary throughout his employment duration with Nexgreen from April to August 2019 and from May 23 to June 23, 2021, as per Valenzuela City’s Workers Affairs Office (WAO). He and other former Nexgreen employees were now being assisted by the City’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO) to help them find a job.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already ordered a probe to look into Nexgreen’s alleged unfair labor practice as of the moment.
“Local labor disputes”
For the City Government of Valenzuela, receiving labor issues and complaints are quite common and the City has been effectively resolving this at the local level.
Labor issues are actively being reported to the Valenzuela City Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (VCTIPC) as the local government has since prepared for these issues arising from having the most number of businesses in factories and the manufacturing/production industries in the country.
The Council has been resolving labor disputes for years now and has also pushed for the creation of the Barangay Labor and Employment Committee (BLEC) which is tasked to serve as a monitoring and facilitating body of all labor disputes in barangays.
For labor concerns and other possible business violations, the local government calls for Valenzuelanos to report this through (02) 8 352-1000.