Workers in Biggest Pineapple Plantation Kick-off Protests vs. Continued Union-Busting, Harassment

President Aquino urged to show teeth in enforcing rulings that hurt big firms

Filipino workers from the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer launched today a series of protests to pressure the company to abide by a Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) directive to recognize the legitimacy of the workers’ union officials and stop measures to quash the union.

Led by labor union Asosasyon sa mga Mamumuo sa Dole Alang sa Kalinaw ug Demokratikong Nasud or Amado-Kadena, a member of the National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU (Naflu-KMU), about 500 workers staged a demonstration at the gate of Dole Philippines (Dolefil) in Polomolok, South Cotabato. Workers from other unions of Naflu-KMU also picketed the Dolefil corporate head office in Makati today in support of their colleagues in Mindanao.

The Dolefil management has assaulted Amado Kadena by forming a company-backed union, the UR-DOLE, through a few isolated workers who were given special benefits in exchange for cooperating with management moves to bust Amado Kadena. The Amado Kadena union leaders were impeached by an illegal general assembly, which was organized with the help of the Dolefil management, and were replaced with people from UR-Dole.

Several union members have also been unjustly dismissed since 2005. Military groups have also cooperated with the management in harassing union officials and members.

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Because of the clear violations of workers’ rights and their persistent collective action, the Department of Labor’s BLR released a decision nullifying the impeachment of the union officials from Amado Kadena, voiding the legality of the general assembly called for and presided over by UR-DOLE, and thwarting the move of UR-DOLE to disaffiliate the union from Naflu-KMU.

It has already been a month, however, since the decision was released, and the management only plays deaf to the directive.

“Dolefil owners act like bullies in defying government orders that are in favor of the union officials, and in steadily pushing through with their union-busting schemes. That is how callous and cruel big capitalists can be, always acting according to their interests,” said Amado Kadena President Jose Teruel.

“We call on the DOLE and other responsible government agencies to act on the non-compliance of the pineapple firm giant, especially now that we are supposedly under the ‘administration of change’ led by Noynoy Aquino.

“Whenever government orders favor business owners, the government even summons the military and police in order to enforce the directive. But if the decision favors the workers, the government just shrugs it off if its directive is disobeyed. We hope this will not happen in our case,” Teruel added.

“But what we are most certain of is the power of the collective action of workers. If the Dolefil management insists on taking the law into its hands, and if Aquino’s government will not show teeth to enforce its rulings, then we will fight for what is due to us through our collective might,” Teruel said.

Dolefil employs about 5,000 workers in its 24,000-hectare plantation in South Cotabato.##

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