DAVAO CITY – A Mindanao subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. is threatened with protests as its workers alleged the company of failing to respect the country’s labor laws.
Four months after their last protest action, angry banana workers from Compostela Valley and Davao City protested anew at Sumifru (Philippines) Corporation’s headquarters in Bajada, this city, on Wednesday, February 10, saying the company is repressing the workers.
The group of workers under the alliance Bigwas — or the Banana Industry Growers and Workers against Sumifru — demanded the company to “respect previous agreements and uphold Philippine labor laws.”
On Wednesday, they brought a signed statement addressed to Sumifru President Paul Cuyegkeng airing the following grievances:
- Despite our agreement, as mediated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regarding the suspension of the piece rate wage scheme on all packing plants, this wage scheme is still in force;
- The widespread practice of contractualization, coursed through different labor cooperatives and/or labor agencies, in order to skirt the law on regularization and evade employer-employee relations;
- The continued use of the post-harvest pesticide Omega in the packing plants which has poisoned workers and the non-provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to handle such toxic chemical;
- The disregard for workers’ safety as the company lets workers shoulder the cost of uniform, physical examination and PPEs;
- The continued refusal to bargain with the sole and exclusive bargaining agent in AJMR Port Services, AJMR Labor Union-ADLO-KMU, despite the decision of the Bureau of Labor Relations finding the union’s affiliation to ADLO-KMU valid, and the use of threat and intimation against union members.
Melodina Gumanoy, Bigwas convener, and president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Osmeña (NAMAOS-NAFLU-KMU), said the workers are disgusted over Sumifru’s disregard for its 30,000 workers, “even to the extent of placing their health in peril in the name of profits and disrespecting their right to organize and collectively bargain.”
“Sumifru’s glaring disrespect for agreements and decisions such as the previous agreement revoking the piece-rate scheme and its adamant refusal to bargain with its port workers reveal the unequal treatment this government gives to workers and foreign capitalists. While the workers toil and get sick, Sumifru sits idly by,” Gumanoy added.
In its statement, Bigwas declared that the workers are ready to wage big protests and strikes in order to make Sumifru hold accountable.
DavaoToday made several calls on Sumifru’s landline numbers posted on its website, but remained unanswered.
Sumifru is an exporter of Cavendish bananas with markets in Japan, Korea, Middle East, New Zealand, and China, according to its company profile.
Its base of operations in the Philippines is situated in Mindanao, due to the island suitable climate for cultivating bananas, as well as pineapple and papaya. (davaotoday.com)