DAVAO CITY – Workers of foreign-owned banana exporters Sumifru and Musahamat Farms protested today at the offices of both companies for chemical poisoning suffered by its workers in their respective banana packing plants in Compostela and Pantukan, Compostela Valley.
The workers claim that the chemical fluozinam with brand name Omega being applied in the crowns (“pungango”) of bananas to prevent early ripening was responsible for the series of poisoning in the workplace. The workers in the packing plants complain of dizziness, nausea, dry throat, blurred vision and stomach ache when exposed. Several workers have been hospitalized as a result of exposure to Omega.
The Omega chemical was categorized as blacklisted by Greenpeace in Germany, an independent global environmental organization, for containing hazardous properties.
Omega was first used by Sumifru in 2016. The packing plant workers of Sumifru in Compostela complained to the company of the strong odor of the chemicals and its effects on their bodies. However, the company did not stop using the chemical but only improved the packing plants’ ventilation system. Due to this neglect, last August 24, five (5) workers were hospitalized after fainting at work. One worker was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to severe dizziness.
In Pantukan, similar experiences were aired by the packing plant workers of Musahamat Farms, Inc. who were exposed to the same chemical. The workers bared that the company utilized the said chemical in 2013 but was stopped after the workers complained of its effects. However, this year, the company used it back that resulted to massive complains.
Herminia Lee Furro, 48 years old, who has worked for Musahamat for 10 years, bared that this month she experienced headache, spasm, sore eyes, skin itchiness, joint pains, and heart enlargement due to inhalation of the chemical fume.
Another packing plant worker, Pebirencia Mira, 45 years old, suffered premature labor last January 2017 which her doctor attributed to chemical exposure. Another worse scenario recorded was that of Melodine Desmopan Genabe who suffered a miscarriage on 2013 which the doctor also found to be a result of chemical poisoning.
Arlene Mantilla Paller lost her voice for the last two weeks due to exposure of Omega. She also suffered body pains, fever and headaches.
The protesting workers called on their companies to immediately ban the use of the hazardous Omega chemical.
They likewise demanded for reparation for health risks and loss of income as a result of exposure. Lastly, they called on the Department of Labor and Employment to issue a work stoppage order of the companies due to the health hazard in the workplace.#