Illegal dismissals push workers’ strike at Korean-owned banana exporter

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DAVAO CITY – Mass dismissals of workers have pushed workers to launch a strike against Korean-owned Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corp. in Brgy. San Miguel, Compostela, Compostela Valley.

On March 16, fifty-three (53) workers organized under the union Shin Sun Workers Union – National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno (SSWU-NAFLU-KMU) were retrenched by Shin Sun, majority of whom had been working for the company for two to seven years. In the banana industry where capitalists employ several labor agencies to supply labor requirements, the practice is also insidiously used in order to skirt the law on regularization.

In the case of Shin Sun, the company contracted ECQ Serve Human Resources, a labor agency later declared by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to be engaged in the prohibited Labor-only Contracting (LOC).

Under the Labor Code, if a company hires a labor-only contractor, the company (principal) will be considered the employer of the employees of the contractor. In this case, workers hired under ECQ should have been declared employees of Shin Sun. However, instead of regularizing the workers, the company retrenched 53 of them and hired another labor agency, Human Pros Manpower Agency, to recruit new workers.

Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao blasted Shin Sun for the illegal dismissals and called the attention of the DOLE under the leadership of Sec. Silvestre Bello III to investigate Shin Sun’s illegal acts.

According to Carl Anthony Olalo, secretary general of KMU Southern Mindanao, the Shin Sun workers’ strike is the first strike launched in the region following the release of the much-hyped Department Order 174 which promised to end labor only contracting.

“This is a test case for the Duterte administration to bare its resolve in ending contractualization through strong intervention. The DOLE itself has declared the previous contractor as LOC and hence all workers employed under it should have been declared as employees of Shin Sun, not dismissed summarily, as what this Korean company has done,” said Olalo.

KMU is calling for the immediate reinstatement and regularization of the retrenched workers. The group also demanded the repeal of Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code and reiterated that this is the only way to get rid of contractualization.###

Carl Anthony Olalo, secretary general, KMU Southern Mindanao, 09123861000

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