CITY OF MALOLOS — Cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. has asked its 300 workers to decide whether they want to retire or stay and work for the company’s new management, following its sale to the Japan Tobacco International Philippines (JTI).
Around 30 workers staged a rally on Monday night in front of the company’s manufacturing plant in Barangay Tikay here, believing they were among 120 personnel who were terminated after they were not instructed to return to work.
“There is no truth to that. There is no termination, no abandonment. What we offer is retirement or continuation of their employment. We have prepared the checks. We have been distributing checks,” Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp. president, said.
Mighty Corp.’s P46.8-billion sale this month to JTI was the product of a tripartite agreement between Barrientos and JTI and the national government, which filed tax evasion cases against Mighty.
Barrientos said P26.8 billion of the money went to the government to settle the tax cases while Mighty’s original owners were entitled to P20 billion.
The plant on the 10-hectare lot owned by the Wung Chu King Holdings in Tikay will remain under Mighty management during a two-year transition but the machinery and all other assets now belong to JTI, he said.
According to him, the company is expecting all workers to signify how they stand about their work options today.
Carlo Francisco, 34, led the Monday protest rally where workers lit candles to draw attention to their plight. He said the company’s labor policy after the sale had not been clear to them.
Damiana Domingo, 49, said 50 of the 120 workers had been told they could return, leaving 70 others still uncertain about their fate.
Having worked for Mighty for 33 years, Domingo urged the new owners to allow them to continue working.
Francisco said Mighty offered them half of their retirement benefits under a proposed set of separation packages, and promised to pay the remaining half in two years should they choose to avail themselves of early retirement.
He said most workers wanted a higher retirement package to be paid in full and not in installments.
“But for us, we need not even receive the full retirement, for as long as we are allowed to continue working,” he said. —Carmela Reyes-Estrope
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