Jersey City, New Jersey
It was a rare scene when an estimated 100 people rallied at the Journal Square, Jersey City transportation station in front of Jollibee, a popular fast food restaurant. The rally took place on July 6, National Fried Chicken Day, which was promoted on social media. The protesters demanded that nine Filipino workers be reinstated after Jollibee management fired them for attempting to organize workers in the restaurant for their rights.
Jollibee is a fast-growing food chain, which originated in the Philippines, but has recently expanded in other countries, including the U.S. The chain made over $30 million in profits in 2022, with 40% of their total revenue coming in from around the world.
These workers, like millions of other Filipino workers, are forced to leave their homeland to find jobs in other countries to send remittances back home to take care of their families. This is due to the Philippines’ low-wage, service economy rooted in the super exploitation of the masses by a comprador bourgeoisie and big landowners, who do the bidding of U.S. imperialism.
An estimated $13.4 billion in overseas remittances from the U.S. alone bolstered the Philippine economy in 2022. (Philippine Star, Feb. 16)
Hundreds of commuters were able to see the rally despite the fact that the local police relegated the Jollibee workers and their supporters to a pen and did not allow passersby to come close enough to hear the rally speakers once they banned the use of a bullhorn.
Despite this attempted police intimidation, the rally was very upbeat and uplifting, especially when five of the nine workers spoke about why they were fired and how they will not give up the struggle to win justice.
They explained that in late 2022, the workers at Journal Square produced a letter to the Jollibee bosses demanding a wage increase of $3 an hour, better working conditions, holiday pay and other improvements. More than 90% of the workers signed the letter with these just demands.
Claiming that they were losing money, in mid-February the bosses laid off the nine workers who were the most visible organizers. The workers found out months later that they were fired to prevent them from delivering the letter in order to silence them. These same bosses refused to hear these demands on July 6 before the rally began.
In response to these unjust firings, the Jollibee workers and their allies are demanding the following: “Uphold workers’ rights to organize at all Jollibee stores; reinstate all fired workers and give them back pay and compensation for lost wages; apologize publicly for retaliating against workers for exercising their right to organize.”
The organizers of the rally stated that this will be an ongoing campaign until all nine workers are back on the job.
Supporters can show solidarity with the Jollibee workers’ struggle by going to their Instagram page at justice4jollibeeworkers, signing up on Twitter with #Justice4JollibeeWorkers or emailing [email protected].
An injury to one is an injury to all!