CHR probe on food giant Dole Philippines’ labor rights violations sought

Jul. 01, 2010

A local union in South Cotabato has filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against food giant Dole Philippines (Dolefil) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), asserting that the company is in cahoots with the military in harassing plantation workers and conducting anti-union activities.

In a four-page complaint, Kilusang Mayo Uno-affiliated Amado Kadena-National Federation of Labor Unions (AK-Naflu-KMU) called the attention of outgoing CHR chair Leila de Lima for Dolefil’s harassment of union leaders and the anti-union seminars conducted by the AFP’s 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) within the 24,000-hectare pineapple plantation.

“We urge the CHR to look into Dolefil’s blatant attack on workers’ rights to organize and form unions and for violating even the standards set by the International Labor Organization,” said KMU executive vice chairman Joselito “Lito” Ustarez.

Ustarez added that Dolefil and the military are also accusing union officers of recruiting for the New People’s Army (NPA) and supporting the communist insurgency. He said such scheme is similar to military’s vilification campaign versus militant workers in other workplaces.

AK-Naflu-KMU also included rabid anti-communist group Alliance for National Democracy (Anad) Partylist in its CHR complaint, saying the group has colluded with the military in producing anti-KMU propaganda and seminars in support of Dolefil’s campaign to dismantle the union.

Two years ago, union president Jose “Ka JT” Teruel was slapped with fabricated charges, including falsification of documents, as part of the company’s efforts to paralyze the union.

In February, Dolefil used a bogus employees group, UR-Dole, to impeach all union officers and take over the union.

“The bitter truth is that almost all imaginable forms of labor rights violations are happening right at the heart of the vast pineapple plantation,” Ustarez said.

KMU noted that the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has been inutile in protecting Dolefil’s plantation and cannery workers from harassment and illegal dismissal by the company since 2005.

“The union is now knocking at CHR’s door since the labor department has acted to protect corporate interests over workers’ rights. For the longest time, Dole has kept its mouth shut on various labor rights violations being committed by the food company in South Cotabato,” Ustarez said.

The harassment and anti-union campaigns in Dolefil was included in KMU’s complaint to the ILO. During the ILO’s high-level mission in September last year, the UN (United Nations) agency has expressed concern over the intimidation cases in the food company.

For reference:

Joselito “Lito” Ustarez, KMU executive vice chairman
Mobile number: 0908-6491992

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