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‘All demands met’: Jollibee workers in US win labor dispute following illegal termination


James Relativo – Philstar.com

December 2, 2023 | 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — US-based workers of Filipino fast food chain Jollibee declared victory after months of protests and a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board due to violations of federal labor law and right to organize.

According to a statement from progressive worker’s Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Friday, all nine workers who were illegally terminated in February 2023 will be recieving a sum total of $84,000 back pay and “consequential damages.”

Four among those who were terminated are slated to return to work in the Journal Square location, with the management sending a formal apology to workers, acknowledging the illegal firing and reciting their rights to organize.

“I feel relieved that justice has been served and Jollibee is now paying for taking advantage of their workers. It is not easy for workers to be heard,” said Elvin T, one of the terminated Jollibee workers.

“Winning against Jollibee only proved that despite how big of a company you’re fighting against, as long as you know that you are in the right, justice will prevail in the end. We must never stop fighting for our rights.”

Philstar.com is trying to get a statement from Jollibee USA and Jollibee Philippines regarding the matter but have yet to reply.

What happened overseas?

In February, nine Jollibee workers were reportedly terminated by Journal Square management upon discovering a circulated petition advocating for a $3 wage increase (from their existing $14 wage), double pay on holidays, and improved working conditions.

KMU said that over 90% of Jollibee workers signed the petition. On July 6, former and current workers, including five of the nine who were terminated, launched the Justice for Jollibee Workers Campaign with a protest action at the Journal Square location, calling for reinstatement, back pay, and a public apology.

 

 

Workers and community members engaged in a series of rallies across New York, New Jersey and Seattle with regards to the issue.

The company reportedly argued that they are experiencing “financial diffuculties,” even if the fast food chain had plans to open 500 stores in North America in the next five to seven yeras, adding to the over 6,300 stores across the globe.

The National Labor Relations Board brought charges against Honybee Food Corp., the North American arm of the fast food restaurant, for “violating federal law. The US federal labor agency reportedly found merit to the complaint made by nine workers in the Journal Square following the circulation of said petition.

“It took solidarity to win this campaign. This victory shows that even big corporations like Jollibee are able to be beaten,” said Mary Kirsten T, another terminated worker.

“It means workers shouldn’t be scared to practice their basic workers rights. My advice to Jollibee workers across the world is don’t be scared to stand up. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, express yourself, to your fellow peers or management, it is your right.”

Another terminated Jollibee worker named Kyra D. likewise advised all Jollibee workers worldwide to speak up should they experience any mistreatment.

KMU added that the Justice for Jollibee Workers campaign plans to continue supporting workers at other Jollibee locations who will take action and organize for their rights in the future.

It could be remembered that the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered Jollibee Foods Corp. to regularize 6,482 workers in 2018 as the government tried to clamp down against hiring employees on short-term contracts.

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