Tuna canner expands operation; spends Php15-M for workers’ non-cash benefits

June 16, 2015 10:30 am 

MANILA, June 16 — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday lauded one of the country’s biggest tuna fish canners and exporters, General Tuna Corporation, for expanding operation—an indication of its growing confidence in the economy—and spending Php15 million in non-cash benefits for its over 6,000 workers.

“Six thousand tuna fish canning workers of General Tuna Corporation will receive non-cash benefits in the form of uniforms, personal protective equipment (PPE), and annual medical examination services, all for free starting this year. This is because the company is expanding its global operation and so it has to comply with general labor standards. I am glad it is voluntarily doing this to its workers. It is good business. It is good corporate citizenship,” said Baldoz after DOLE Regional Director Ofelia Domingo reported that General Tuna Corporation plant manager Ricardo Magnayon said the workers’ uniforms and PPE provision is in compliance with government regulatory requirements and for its planned international market expansion.

“With our plan to expand our international operation, we need to comply with these requirements for our workers as part of our social responsibility,” Domingo quoted Magnayon as saying.

“We will cover the cost of medical examination of each worker. We will make the main production area fully air-conditioned to provide them better working conditions,” Magnayon said.

Joel Saavedra, General Tuna Corporation human resource manager, confirmed this. He said the company is spending P15 million to purchase t-shirts, lab gowns, caps, hair nets, masks, and working boots for the workers.

Our workers will have two sets of uniforms. We will provide them PPE which we will replace every six months,” Saavedra said.

DOLE General Santos City Field Office officer-in-charge Fatima Bataga bared that the move of General Tuna Corporation to provide the non-cash benefits to its workers was the outcome of the rapid assessment done by the DOLE and its agencies, the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) of the tuna fishing and tuna fish canning sector last May 2013.

Baldoz, noting this is the first for the company and also for General Santos City, expressed the hope that other canneries in the region will follow suit and replicate the good practice of General Tuna Corporation to ensure their workers’ safety in their respective workplaces, as well as their general well-being.

She said the fishing and fish canning sector in the South is facing fresh challenges from the workers who have been complaining of substandard pay and substandard working conditions which have caught the government’s attention.

“Employers in the fishing and fish canning sector should realize that workers are their greatest resource, not the fish or their machinery, so we need to take good care of them in terms of complying with general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards,” Baldoz said.

General Tuna Corporation is the export arm of Century Pacific Food, Inc., the company that manufactures private label canned, pouched, and frozen tuna products. The company maintains a world-class facility in General Santos City, which is adjacent to the world’s tuna fishing grounds in the Western Pacific Ocean and the waters between Southern Philippines and Indonesia.(PNA)

FPV/DOLE-PR/PJN

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