Strikes vs. Japanese firm SUMIFRU loom in Compostela town

6 January 2014

Strikes vs. Japanese firm SUMIFRU loom in Compostela town

DAVAO CITY – Unanimous “yes to strike” votes from two unions and SUMIFRU’s failure to appear at a second round of negotiations make strikes imminent in Compostela, Compostela Valley Province.

According to militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao, if Sumifru continues to ignore banana worker’s legitimate demands, a strike will be inevitable. Two unions – Nagkahiusang Mamumu-o sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU) and Packing Plant 92 Worker’s Union – formally submitted results of the strike vote today at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board Region 11. Under the law, a grace period of seven (7) days after formal submission of strike vote results is provided before the unions can launch a lawful strike.

Japanese fruit company Sumitomo Fruits, Inc (SUMIFRU) was a no-show at the second conciliation hearing facilitated by NCMB on January 3, 2014 at the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Compostela town. Earlier that day, the two unions voted unanimously in favor of a strike as SUMIFRU top management refuses to lift the suspension of 139 workers.

On December 23, 2013, the two unions filed a strike notice (NOS) at the NCMB Region 11 against SUMIFRU for union busting. A total of 139 union members were suspended for refusing to sign a mandatory waiver of commitment after several clusters of banana products were reported to be affected with metal insertions in Davao and Japan. Union members cried foul over the suspension as this did not follow due process.

Vicente Barrios, President of NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU, a union of workers in Packing Plant 90, blasted SUMIFRU for putting them out of work without just cause, “Asa ka makakita sa mga balaod sa Pilipinas, sa Labor Code, nga silotan usa ang trabahante bag-o imbestigahan? Unya ang suspension wala pa’y kinutuban? Dinhi lang sa Sumifru. Binu-ang ning gihimo sa SUMIFRU sa amoa,” he said. (Where in national law, in the Labor Code, could you find a provision which states ‘punish first before investigation’? And where suspension does not carry a term? Only in SUMIFRU. What SUMIFRU did to us is despicable.)

Romualdo Basilio, KMU Southern Mindanao Secretary General, explained that SUMIFRU’s actions prove that the company wants to see union-free zones in its vast hectares of banana plantations in Compostela. SUMIFRU owns around 2,500 hectares of banana plantation in Compostela town alone. SUMIFRU did not rehabilitate banana plantations in Osmeña Compostela Valley province, rendering union members under Nagkahiusang Mamumu-o sa Osmeña (NAMAOS) jobless, according to Basilio.

Basilio added that after Typhoon Pablo, strikes erupted in two different banana plantations over capitalist machinations to bust unions in Yoshida Farms and Freshmax Rotto last year.

“Capitalists will always resort to union busting in order to maximize their profit-taking and to facilitate contractualization and erosion of worker’s rights and benefits. The strikes which ended victorious last year proved that the union remains the only hope and strength that workers have against greedy and oppressive capitalists,” Basilio noted.

Meanwhile, Barrios explained that if workers’ demands remain unmet within the grace period, the workers will fight hard and strike for their rights and the survival of their families. A third conciliation hearing is scheduled tomorrow, January 7.###

Romualdo Basilio, KMU Southern Mindanao Secretary General, 0906-6525-498
Vicente Barrios, President, NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU, 0908-2233-389

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