THEIR SIDE. Real Steel Corp. GM Melodie Arellano, HR chief Jenalyn Salazar, production manager Kristinne Marie Morata and company nurse Necitas Ric Tan field questions from media on issues raised against their company.
SAN SIMON, Pampanga – “Wala pong ikinukulong, wala pong maltreatment.”
Thus, the management of a steel manufacturing plant along Quezon Road in Barangay San Isidro here denied detaining and maltreating its workers.
On Tuesday, a press conference was held at the Real Steel Corp. plant here where its general manger, Melodie Arellano, categorically denied the allegations.
“Patungkol po doon sa rescue, wala pong na-rescue. Mayroon pong nag-resign na 42 katao, kagustuhang personal po nila, hindi po na-rescue,” stressed Arellano during the press conference where she was joined by RSC human resource manager Jenalyn Salazar, production manager Kristine Marie Morata, and company nurse Necitas Ric Tan.
Grave threats, physical injuries, illegal detention, violation of labor laws, especially giving salaries below the minimum wage, were just among the numerous complaints that the workers raised against RSC management.
The workers plight went viral in the internet after broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo featured them in his program where he organized a rescue operation led by the Department of Labor and Employment regional office and the local police.
The living quarters and canteen for the workers. Contributed photo
In Tulfo’s program, the workers also alleged maltreatment such as making them “target practice,” and forced to sniff shabu (methamphetamine) to keep them awake to last them longer hours for work.
But all their allegations were categorically denied by the RSC officers during the press conference.
A certification from the San Simon PNP stated that the municipal health office has provided assistance during the conduct of mandatory and unannounced drug-testing for employees of RSC proving that no illegal drugs are permitted in the RSC compound.
The RSC compound is also certified Covid- 19-free which explains the strict security procedures being implemented because of the pandemic. Only 15 workers at a time are allowed out during their days off owing to the pandemic, said Salazar.
Meanwhile, a Youtube video of the Erwin Tulfo program “Tutok Tulfo” showed some of the reported more than 100 workers coming out of the gate of the RSC compound after one of the staff of Tulfo called the workers on their cellphones and asked them if they still needed to be rescued to which they replied, “yes.”
A few hours earlier, the DOLE led by regional director Zenaida Angara- Campita entered the RSC compound with the police but came out without the workers prompting Tulfo’s staff, who remained outside the compound, to call the workers.
Upon hearing the workers’ distressed call over the phone, the DOLE and the police went back inside the compound and were later shown in the video coming out of the gate with the alleged detained workers.
But during Tuesday’s press conference, Arellano noted that some of the workers who were allegedly detained came out fresh from taking a shower and wore clean clothes.
“Malilinis po ang kanilang damit at kumpleto ang kanilang gamit mayroon pong representative ng DOLE na sumaksi,” she said.
“Hindi namin alam na mayroon silang plano at sabay-sabay na aalis. Sa katunayan, kinabukasan may natangap kaming text messages at tawag humihingi sa amin ng pasensya,” she narrated as she showed the text messages on her cellphone. “Gusto nila magbalik trabaho na.”
“Natakot lang daw po sila may nagsabi sa kanila na isasara ang kumpanya at huhulihin ang kanilang boss,” according to Arellano saying that only 42 of their 500 workers resigned. Salazar said all of the 42 workers are probationary meaning they were only hired last June and July.
“Wala pong maltreatment,” she stressed. “Wala pong baril ang mga Chinese,” denying that they are being made target practice. She admitted that there are some 20 Chinese nationals working at RSC with complete documents and legitimate working permits.
RSC president Irwin Chua was not present during Tuesday’s press conference but distributed a printed statement saying he is a Filipino citizen with Filipino parents who grew up in Tondo, Manila.
Chua said RSC workers come from all over the country and some of the issues being raised do not concern race. But just like Filipinos, some workers also have some misunderstandings which are quickly resolved by management because they do not tolerate abuse and harassment.
Chua said based on his perspective, what is happening is harassment. He noted that many times they have been visited by DOLE, the Department of Trade and Industry, the police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the municipal government with no issues raised.
It happened only now just because Tulfo was not allowed to enter the RSC compound.
Chua admitted that RSC is not perfect but assured the authorities that they are continually improving their system and procedures.
“Mahal ko po ang Pilipinas,” he concluded his statement.