By ZEA IO MING C. CAPISTRANO
DAVAO CITY – Another multinational banana company in the region succumbed to workers’ protest revoking its implementation of the piece-rate scheme which was criticized for cutting workers’ wage by more than half.
Barely two weeks after its workers and banana growers protested the payment scheme, Sumifru (Philippines) Corporation of the Japanese giant Sumitomo Corporation, signed a Compromise Agreement with the workers’ union of packing plants in Compostela Valley Province on Wednesday Apr. 22 putting a stop to the piece-rate pay scheme in favor of its previous hourly rate payment to workers. The salary differentials of the workers will also be paid in full according to the agreement.
The compromise agreement was facilitated by Ma. Theresa M. Francisco OIC Director of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Region 11 and Atty. Jason P. Balais, OIC- Assistant Regional Director for the Department of Labor and Employment.
In a document obtained by Davao Today, a memorandum was released by the Manpower Service Department of Sumifru Philippines Corporation on March 17 to the North Skilled Workers Cooperative of Purok 12, Poblacion Compostela, Compostela Valley Province which announced the implementation of the 100 percent piece-rate payment scheme “mandated by the management.”
Workers met it with protest in front of the Sumifru office here on April 10, after computing their take home pay to be almost 50 percent lesser with the piece-rate payment compared to the hourly rate payment.
One of the leaders, Vicente Barrios, who is the union president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (Namasufa) in Packing Plant 90, told Davao Today the payment for his work in 10 days is lesser by more than 50 percent with the piece-rate scheme.
The piece-rate scheme affected almost 5,000 workers within Sumifru’s 2,700 hectare area in Compostela. In a statement on Wednesday the workers said, workers from the eleven (11) packing plants of Sumifru resisted the piece-rate system and organized themselves into an alliance called Banana Industry Growers and Workers Against SUMIFRU (Bigwas).
Joel Cuyos, spokesman of Bigwas and union president of packing plant 95’s Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Jose (Namasan), said their victory shows the advantages of the workers’ unity.
“This victory is a lesson to Sumifru and all capitalists that you cannot impose exploitative and unjust policies on your workers without facing resistance,” Cuyos said.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) lauded workers victory saying this is the second successive victory of workers in the banana industry following the conclusion of the 2-day strike of Davao del Norte banana workers last April 18.
Joel Maglunsod, spokesman of Kilusang Mayo Uno in Mindanao, said they hope other workers of the banana industry in other regions in Mindanao will organize themselves into unions “and struggle relentlessly for fair treatment and just working conditions.”