Rick & Julie

Rick - Founder of the acacia wood workshop

Rick – Founder of the acacia wood workshop


Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Rick & Julie


Houseware and living accessories made of acacia wood


Luzon Island to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Tarlac City to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Sta Ignazia, Tarlac City, Luzon Island, Philippines – distance to Europe: 10,000km

Founded in 1996


  • 1996: Founding of “RJ Southwestern Design Furniture”, RJ refers to the initials of the founding couple Rick (Enrique Miralles) and Julie
  • Factory premises in Tarlac City are built up from scratch; before there were only fallow fields at this place
  • Initially RJ is specialised in the production of furniture and hand carved products in Western style, mainly for the U.S. marktet
  • 2007: Due to the financial and real estate crisis, sales collapsed in the U.S. RJ is forced to decrease his business, new focus on the home market and development of new product ranges (table ware made of wood)
  • Since 2013:  RJ becomes a partner of several European Fairtrade organisations; with the help of loans, technical innovations and product developments RJ succeeds in stabilising his business and in exporting his products
  • 2013: The Dutch fair trade organisation Kinta introduces RJ to CONTIGO, until today the cooperation with RJ is in close teamwork with Kinta

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2013

Structure of the business

Organisation of workforce / number of employees:

  • Administration, accounting: 3
  • Quality control: 5
  • Production management: 3
  • Purchase of raw material: 1
  • Production:
    • 23 so-called „sub-contractors“ with 50-60 crafters in total
    • Depending on order situation 80-100 additional crafters from nearby villages are available on request
    • Crafters receive piece rate wage

Due to quality aspects all production steps are processed on-site.


  • Home market (10%)
  • Exports (90%) to Europe, Japan and the U.S.

Special features

Why does CONTIGO work with Rick & Julie: Rick is a passionate artisan and knows all steps of woodworking very well. He is focussed on quality, long-term cooperation and preservation of the craft, as well as offering stable incomes for craftsmen in the rural areas of Sta Ignazia.

Fairtrade classification

FTP = Fairtrade in Progress

Justification statement by Monika Herbst: RJ did a lot to optimise work processes in the last years. Permanent staff receive health and social insurances. But work contracts are still missing; they are important to record transparency with regards to employer´s and employees´rights and duties. Due to his business situation RJ is not able to pay minimum wages for all employees by now. He aims to do so.


Fairtrade aspects

Rick & Julie complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV.


Fair wages

  • Minimum wage in the sector/region: PHP 357/day (PHP= Philippine Peso)
  • Average wage at Rick & Julie: PHP 300-450/day (for salaried employees)
  • Piece rate: earnings depend on performance, appr. 80-100 USD/week (this correlates to a daily earning of PHP 650-810)
  • Weekly payment of workers in cash

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 8 hours/day (for salaried employees)
  • „Sub-contractors“ can organise their work on their own
  • 1.5 hours break for a snack and for lunch
  • 6 days/week

Social benefits:

For salaried employees:

  • Paid holidays (10 days)
  • Continued payment of wage in case of sickness or accidents
  • Contributions to health insurance (Philhealth) and social security system (SSS)
  • Contributions to national pension fund „pag-IBIG“ = Home Development Mutual Fund (loans for housing, other multipurpose loans)

For „sub-contractors“ with piece rate wages:

  • Contributions to health insurance (Philhealth)
  • For artisans coming from far-off villages, free accommodation on-site (equipped with sanitary facilities, kitchette), only electricity must be paid by the employees
  • In times of less work: providing of free rice

Educational opportunities:

  • Twice a year training for students from high schools and from low-income families how to build the traditional “Bahay Kubo” houses made of bamboo, in cooperation with the local department of trade and industry

Occupational safety:

  • All safety standards are met


  • Payroll is available
  • Pay slips are available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO


  • Personal visits in Sta Ignazia (2016)

Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: Philippines


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Author: Janina Lange on 1. March 2018

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