Oil palm company rehires ‘unjustly’ axed 293 union workers

Sep. 02, 2013

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The country’s largest oil palm plantation based in Agusan del Sur rehired its 293 workers who were “unjustly” terminated last year after a 62-day strike, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) reported.

The CTUHR said Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation, Inc. (FPPI) “decided to rehire” the union members after its management settled with union officials.

“They have been rehired in casual status. Some may not be coming back since others have found other jobs,” the statement quoted FPPI workers union president Elmer Jamero.

The workers were dismissed in October 2012 when DOLE conducted an ocular inspection on reported labor violations, said CTUHR.  The company made ‘an apparent retaliatory move’ by dismissing workers who were interviewed by DOLE, except for 11 others who were re-hired after signing waivers.

The workers complained to DOLE about the company’s non-payment of 13th month and holiday pay, non-implementation of service incentive leave, absence of rest day, and the non-provision of personal protective equipment to the 600 workers in the plantation, lack of mandatory social benefits, health care and housing premium.

The company’s action prompted the union to stage a strike for 62 days starting on November 27, 2012. The labor secretary handed down its assumption of jurisdiction on January 18 this year but the workers only lifted the strike on January 31.

DOLE issued a return-to-work order to FPPI which the company denied.

But now with the rehiring of these workers, Jamero said the union is fighting for the regularization of the 293 workers.

FPPI is the largest oil palm plantation in the Philippines, with 8,000 hectares of land area in Francisco, Agusan del Sur, according to the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization.

The company is owned by Filipino (60%) and Indonesian (40%) investors which started operating in 1981. (davaotoday.com)

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