SUMIFRU banana packing plant workers on strike

DAVAO CITY – The abrupt closure of a packing plant (PP 90) owned by Japanese company Sumitomo Fruits Corporation (SUMIFRU) in Brgy. Siocon, Compostela, Compostela Valley and the subsequent dismissal of around 120 banana packing plant workers prompted a strike declaration by Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm – National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU represents the rank and file workers of Packing Plant 90. The union declared a strike on June 10 due to union busting.

The strike came on the heels of an initial victory scored by workers belonging to eleven (11) SUMIFRU-owned packing plants in the Compostela area against the implementation of the unjust piece-rate wage scheme forced by SUMIFRU on all its packing plants on March 23. A compromise agreement was signed on April 22, laying down, among others, the immediate revocation of the piece rate scheme as well as the provision on “no retaliatory actions against parties.”

According to Vicente Barrios, president of NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU, the illegal lockout and dismissal is clearly an act of retaliation by SUMIFRU and a violation of the April 22 settlement.

On June 1, PP 90 was padlocked due to an alleged rent dispute between the landowner and SUMIFRU. On June 3, PP 90 workers were told to report for work on a nearby mini packing unit (MPU 230-A) pending resolution of the rent issue between the company and the landowner. However, on June 8, company guards suddenly turned them away at the gate upon the management’s orders.

“We condemn SUMIFRU for betraying the agreed-upon terms of the settlement it signed on April 22. This is clearly an act of retaliation done en masse against the workers who united against the piece rate scheme. We know that SUMIFRU’s grand design in Compostela and all other SUMIFRU plantations in Mindanao is to wipe out genuine unions so that they can extract profits by subjecting workers to all forms of exploitation, including the piece rate scheme,” explained Barrios.

Barrios warned SUMIFRU that the unions will not back down despite its repeated attempts to bust them.

“SUMIFRU has tried and failed several times over to bust the unions here in Compostela. In 2012, it dismissed all the workers of two packing plants by concocting a story that we deliberately damaged the produce through metal insertions. The company failed to prove this and we were reinstated. SUMIFRU’s incessant scheming shows that it is an incorrigible union buster and deserves the workers’ and the people’s utmost condemnation,” Barrios added.

In sympathy with the NAMASUFA strike, workers of Packing Plant 92 Workers Union did not report for work while workers from other packing plants (95, 370, 340) have already conducted slowdowns in order to pressure SUMIFRU to resolve the current labor dispute. SUMIFRU unions in Compostela are federated under the National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU). At present, operations at PP 92 have been completely paralyzed.

NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU demands the following: 1) Reinstatement of all regular and temporary workers of Packing Plant 90; 2) Payment of backwages for dismissed workers of PP 90; and 3) Payment of backwages for workers of PP 92 who did not report for work in sympathy with the PP 90 workers.

Vicente Barrios
+63907 325 6622

Sylvia Lumiguid
president, PP 92 Workers Union
+63930 186 3579

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
(Agricultural Workers Union)

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