24 December 2013
ComVal banana workers to spend Christmas hungry and out of work, thanks to profit-hungry Sumifru – KMU Southern Mindanao
Instead of cheer and celebration, 138 banana workers and their families in Compostela Valley will go hungry for Noche Buena after fruit giant Sumifru failed to pay them their wages and dismissed them from work. We condemn Sumifru’s greed and heartlessness in a season of giving and solidarity.
Sumifru’s actions smack of extreme callousness. The affected workers have already experienced major economic dislocation since Typhoon Pablo when the plantations were devastated and have not recovered. This did not stop profit-hungry Sumifru from exploiting the workers further. Workers and their families have gone hungry after not being paid for three payment cycles. To add to this injustice, since Dec. 11 and 14, union members from Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU) and Packing Plant 92 Worker’s Union found themselves out of work because they defied management’s coercive tactics.
Two weeks earlier, metal wires were discovered inserted into banana products. Instead of subjecting the metal insertion incident to investigation and hold the responsible persons accountable, management penalized the entire workforce and forced them to sign a “waiver” stating that workers promised never to repeat the same act again. The workers wanted due process and an investigation to be held and sanctions meted out to responsible persons. Sumifru responded by terminating those who did not sign the waiver. The unions’ adamant refusal to sign led to the suspension of 138 workers, all union members.
As a result, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU) and Packing Plant 92 Worker’s Union filed strike notices vs. Sumifru with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in Region 11 on December 23 for union busting.
We condemn this insidious maneuvering by Sumifru to dissolve the unity of the workers. We believe this waiver scheme is a shameless act of coercion and treachery designed to bust the unions. Signing the waiver would have been an outright admission of wrongdoing and would easily pave the way for further abuses against the workers. It is a capitalist trap meant to legitimize busting the unions and depriving workers of their rights!
We salute the banana workers who remain uncowed and have determined to fight for what is due them under the law and demand that they be treated with justice and humanity. We call on the public to support the banana workers, intensify their support for the defense of worker’s rights and to defeat all capitalist tactics to undermine our right to organize.
Secretary General, Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao
Mobile No. 0906-652-5498