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Union boss rails at PMFTC, government over job cuts

| January 15, 2015

The Philippines labor group, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), has described a decision by Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) to cut 640 jobs from its Marikina plant as ‘reeking with treachery’, according to a (TV 5) story.

In a press note, the BMP said PMFTC had announced the job cuts barely a month after concluding a collective bargaining agreement with the local union.

And while the company had cited as a reason for the cuts the fall in its market share following the introduction of the so-called sin tax law, it was still the market leader.

BMP’s Gie Relova described the job cuts as heartless because they were made after the employees had returned from holiday. He said that workers had been led to believe that they would be getting a ‘well-deserved’ increase in benefits.

Relova said the company was not bankrupt and was nowhere close to suffering financial losses based on its submitted financial statements to the Security and Exchange Commission during the past three years.

He alleged that the cuts were a form of union-busting, citing the fact that 580 of the 640 employees targeted were union members.

“Riley [president Paul Riley] will not rest until the labor union is fully busted and its [PMFTC’s] workforce entirely made up of contractual employees,” said Relova.

The labor leader took a swipe also at the government, particularly at Senator Franklin Drilon and ‘chief sin tax promoter’, finance secretary Cesar Purisima, who was said to have repeatedly claimed during the deliberations on the Sin Tax Reform Law that increased excise tax collections would not lead to job losses.

He added that: “in their insatiable quest for profit and taxes, both the state and corporations have arranged the workers to be the last to benefit from its own labor, yet the first to be discarded when they fall short of their revenue targets.”

Low tobacco use but high disease rate in Oman

| January 15, 2015

The Executive Office of the Gulf Health Ministries has released a report putting Yemen on top of the list of tobacco consumers in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and among all Arab nations, according to a story in the Times of Oman.

Saudi Arabia was second on the list and it was followed by Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

The Times story did not divulge what the incidence of tobacco use was in most of the countries, but it said that less that 12.3 percent of the Omani population consumed tobacco.

Despite this low consumption rate, the Ministry of Health figures showed that 70 percent of Oman’s residents ‘suffered some kind of ailment related to smoking’.

Iggesund announces upgraded paperboard, services

| January 15, 2015

Iggesund Paperboard has announced that it is going to upgrade its flagship product, Invercote. From July, the bestselling paperboard in the Invercote range, Invercote G, will feature a lightly coated reverse side.

“More and more brand owners want to have access to high-quality reverse side printing, for example in order to print a colour shade or pattern which improves recognition and reinforces their brand,” comments Arvid Sundblad, vice president sales and marketing. “We are developing Invercote step by step, and always in the direction our customers want.”

Currently, Invercote G is triple-coated on the print side with an uncoated reverse, and is available in grammages from 180 to 380 g/m2.

‘Coating the reverse side means that the whiteness on the reverse has also been adjusted up,’ Iggesund said in a press note. ‘Further improvement has also been made to the ‘light-fastness’, which was already the best on the market, and which is crucial for a package to keep looking fresh over time on the retail shelf.’

“This is not a revolution but rather an adaptation to gradually changing customer demands,” said Sundblad. “The reverse side coating is very light – it improves the printing properties, but still keeps the tactile feeling of roughness. But in making this change we have also preserved all the other properties that have repeatedly led to Invercote being ranked by leading brand owners as the European paperboard market’s strongest brand.”

Meanwhile, Iggesund says it has improved and made more transparent its service offering under the name Care by Iggesund.

‘The aim is consistent delivery times but the offering also encompasses everything from a rapid sample service and the dissemination of knowledge to local technical support and a transparent raw materials supply,’ according to the press note.

“It’s crucial to us that anyone who chooses Invercote will not only sleep well at night but also know that the end result will be dazzling,” Sundblad said.

Specifications for the upgraded Invercote G as well as sample and trial material will be available from early February. Deliveries will start on July 1.

Revoking tobacconist license broke ownership rules

| January 14, 2015

Hungary violated rules protecting private ownership when it stripped a tobacconist of his license in 2013, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

According to an All Hungary Media Group story; the court’s ruling does not require that the offending legislation is amended, but it will require the Hungarian state to pay the equivalent of €15,000 in compensation and €6,000 in legal fees once the ruling becomes final.

The ruling will become final if neither party appeals within three months or if any appeal that is made is lost.

Mihaly Varga, the economy minister, told a press conference the Hungarian government acknowledged the Strasbourg court’s ruling, as it had done in connection with past rulings, and would pay the compensation and the legal fees set by the court.

The case was filed by Laszlo Vekony of Sopron in western Hungary, who lost his license to sell tobacco products after the government legislated in September 2012 to make the retail tobacco trade a state monopoly from July 2013.

The court ruling was based on a provision of the European Convention on Human Rights protecting private ownership, specifically ‘peaceful enjoyment of … possessions’.

Socialist board member Karoly Beke insisted that the ruling was “written proof” that Hungary’s system was corrupt. The government’s reaction to the ruling would be a “test of democracy”, Beke said.

Beke encouraged all others with a similar complaint to file suits “out of a shared, democratic interest to demonstrate the borderlines of the rule of law to a usurious, corrupt government”.

The report and comments are at:

JT adds more Options to menthol cigarette offering

| January 14, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc. says that it will launch across Japan from the middle of February three new products within its Mevius Premium Menthol Option range of cigarettes that features the company’s new aroma-changing filter capsule.

The products are: Mevius Premium Menthol Option Yellow 8 (delivery 8 mg of tar and 0.7mg of nicotine), Mevius Premium Menthol Option Yellow 5 (5 mg and 0.5 mg) and ‘Mevius Premium Menthol Option Yellow One 100’s (1 mg and 0.1 mg).

JT said that internal research had shown that the menthol category within Japan’s domestic cigarette market had been growing, especially in respect of demand for products with capsules.

‘In May 2013, as an extension of the Mevius Premium Menthol series, which uses 100 percent natural menthol, JT released three Mevius Premium Menthol Option products, the new menthol series featuring the aroma-changing capsule,’ JT said in a note posted on its website. ‘These products have been very well received by consumers.’

Later, JT said that before crushing the capsules in the filters of the new products, smokers experienced ‘the same clear and refreshing menthol sensation that characterizes all products in the Mevius Premium Menthol series through the use of 100 percent natural menthol’.

‘With the three new products, after crushing the aroma-changing capsule, you can enjoy the clean sharp aroma gently spreading over the palate, a sensation different from [that of the] Mevius Premium Menthol Option series currently on sale.’

Jobs go at Philip Morris Fortune as market share dips

| January 14, 2015

Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco, the Philippines’ biggest cigarette manufacturer is cutting 640 employees from its Marikina plant; or about 30 percent of the plant’s workforce, according to a number of reports.

“This was a very difficult decision to make but in order to maintain a viable operation and to safeguard the future of our business in Marikina, it was necessary to take this step,” the company’s president, Paul Riley, was said to have told ABS-CBN

“We always treat our employees with the utmost respect, and all affected employees were given very generous separation packages, well in excess of legal requirements.”

Riley said the company had already issued notices of termination and ‘a source’ was said to have reported that employees had been told on Monday that they would be out of a job by February 15.

The company’s market share stood at 70.9 percent in June 2014 down from 76.7 percent in the same month of the previous year, according to a story in The Philippine Daily Inquirer citing ‘the latest industry data’.

In April last year, Philip Morris Limited announced that it was to stop cigarette manufacturing in Australia with the loss of 180 jobs from its plant at Moorabbin, Victoria. And later the same month, Philip Morris Holland (PMH) announced that it intended to end cigarette production at Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, with the loss of about 1,230 jobs.

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