KMU Hits Food Giant Dole Philippines’s Renewed Crackdown vs Union Leaders

By BULATLAT

Multinational food giant Dole Philippines operating in South Cotabato in Mindanao has resurrected its company-backed employees’ organization to divide the ranks of workers and usurp the representation of legitimate union leaders who have been asserting the workers’ rights.

UR-Dole, the company-backed organization of Dole Philippines employees, has recently called for a general assembly of workers to gather an impeachment vote against the union leaders of Amado Kadena, the 5,000-strong union under the National Federation of Labor Union-KMU (NAFLU-KMU).

The said general assembly came on the heels of another general assembly called for by Amado Kadena (AK). It was reportedly sabotaged by the Dole management who warned the employees against going absent from work to attend the assembly. In contrast, the Dole management reportedly allowed the workers to attend the general assembly called for by its company-backed UR-Dole, and even provided the company bus to transport the employees to the assembly site.

“UR-Dole does not have a right to call for a general assembly. How can their call be legitimate when they are the ones distributing flyers and hosting a weekly radio show tagging union leaders and unionists as supporters of the communist insurgency? They are no different from the military’s unit which illegally arrested the 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.

“We see the move of UR-Dole as part of the management’s renewed crackdown on the legitimate union leaders who are actively campaigning for the implementation of specific CBA provisions on workers’ benefits,” Labog added.

The labor department has ordered AK to call for a general assembly of workers to discuss the non-implementation of some CBA provisions. But Dole Philippines has gone ahead of AK, using the labor department’s order to gather workers and campaign for the impeachment of active union leaders.

“By using its well-funded attack dog to put the union in disarray, Dole Philippines is cooking a lame tactic in the name of suppressing the workers’ struggle for their labor rights. Like its previous union-busting schemes such as illegal arrest of the union president, this new tactic will eventually fail, as its anti-worker stance has even soldered a strong unity among workers,” Labog said.

In July 19, 2007, AK-NAFLU-KMU’s union leader, Jose “Ka JT” Teruel, was arrested by the Philippine National Police in Polomolok, South Cotabato on charges of 20 counts of falsification of private documents filed by company-backed union National Federation of Labor (NFL).

After the arrest, the vice president, treasurer and secretary of the union were dismissed by Dole Philippines on mere charges of being “absent without permission,”

“Big foreign corporations like Dole Philippines are hell-bent on crushing KMU unions because they see our brand of genuine and militant trade unionism as hurtful to their greedy profiteering. They want us crushed so that they can easily implement anti-worker policies like retrenchment and contractualization for their greater profit,” Labog explained.

KMU said the anti-union campaign of big businesses goes hand in hand with the Arroyo regime’s policy of crushing the trade union movement. In Dole Philippines, this has taken the form of anti-union lectures of the military in the 24,000-hectare plantation. Nationwide, trade union repression has claimed the lives of 93 union leaders. (Bulatlat.com)

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