by TYRONE A. VELEZ
DAVAO CITY – The workers’ union of a banana plantation in Compostela Valley filed a complaint against the contract grower for alleged threat and harassment when he reportedly brandished and fired his gun to disperse the rally of workers.
The Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (Namasufa), the union of plantation workers in Sumifru Philippines Packing Plants 90 and 92, filed the complaint against Jesus Jamera, the banana grower of Plant 90.
Namasufa president Vicente Barrios,filed the complaint at the Barangay office of New Alegria, Compostela town, Compostela Valley.
The union said that in late January this year, Jamera allegedly fired a warning shot and reportedly threatened Barrios and union workers to disperse their picket in front of his residence as workers demanded the release of their back wages.
Barrios’ lawyer Bibiano Bustamante told Davao Today that they filed the complaint at the barangay “as an initial step for legal remedy on thethreats against Barrios” and to prevent him from further harassing union members.
“This doesn’t mean we can’t file a case in the courts. From the barangay, we could move up to the courts if there is no resolution at this point,” Bustamante said.
The labor support center Nonoy Librado Development Foundation (NLDF) said that Barrios’ case showed that “unionists and workers wanting just wages have been constantly been under attack.”
NLDF Executive Director Emma Ricaforte said Barrios has been “constantly hounded by threats and surveillance for the past years.”
The NLDF will raise Barrios’ issue to the Commission on Human Rights and the International Labor Organization.
Barrios said that he hoped the union complaint would make union workers finally get their back wages this coming Monday.
Barrios said Jamera relented to release their salaries after workers staged another picket last week.
The back wages covered the period when the workers were suspended by Sumifru for alleged tampering of banana products. The union filed a notice of strike that opened a labor arbitration to settle the issue.
The arbitration led to an agreement of reinstatement, an on-spot cash and release of back wages in late January. The agreement was signed by Jamera and another grower Isagani ‘Atoy’ Gementiza, owner of packing plant 92.
Jamera could not be reached for comment. Calls placed at the office of Sumifru were also left unanswered.davao city, nldf, philippines, worker's union, workers