Coca-Cola Philippines, PAL to meet labor dep't over plight of employees

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2021 04:17 PM

ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines and Philippine Airlines will meet this week with the labor department over the plight of their employees as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday.

"Palagay ko, magkakaroon po ng retrenchment, that’s the reason why they asked for a meeting," Bello told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, saying he will meet with representatives from the two companies separately on Monday and Wednesday.

(I think there will be retrenchment, that’s the reason why they asked for a meeting.)

But the beverage company denied that there would be a retrenchment, saying it only has a voluntary retirement program for employees who meet the criteria, according to Jorenz Tañada, Director for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs of Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.

"By way of clarification lang po, wala po tayong retrenchment na magaganap sa Coca-Cola Beverages po," he told TeleRadyo in a separate interview.

(By way of clarification lang po, there would be no retrenchment in Coca-Cola Beverages.)

"We're actually doing well sa negosyo natin (in our business)... As far as retrenchment, as I said, we're thankful to our friends, particularly in DOLE, for all the help they've extended, especially throughout the pandemic na hindi natin kinailangan magbawas ng tao (that we don't need to lay off workers)."

Tañada explained that the company's voluntary retirement program may be availed by any of the company's more than 10,000 employees who may want to spend more time with their families.

"Mayroon talaga kaming retirement packages in every office. Ngayon, nag-take kami ng survey, at may mga may gustong mag-avail," he said.

(We really have retirement packages in every office. We did a survey now, and there are employees who want to avail the offer.)

Tañada also said his department does not have a scheduled meeting with the DOLE.

Meanwhile, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told ABS-CBN News the company would "issue a statement at the appropriate time", when sought for comment on Bello's remarks.

The flag carrier in October said it may retrench up to 35 percent of its more than 7,000 workers because of the collapse of the demand for air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We really have to consider naman talaga na medyo alangin na ang operation nila (that their operation is in jeopardy)," Bello said of the two firms.

The labor chief said Coca-Cola would offer a separation pay of 1 and a half months per year of service.

Meanwhile, according to Bello, the agency has employment programs and 1,040 available jobs through it, while the Civil Service Commission has 200,000 job openings.