CBA Nego in DOLE-Phil
A fully owned
subsidiary of US
multinational Dole Food Company, DOLE Philippines Inc. (Dolefil), accounts
for the bulk of Dole Food Company's total pineapple output. But, said the
union, their wages can’t even compare with the salary levels of younger
workers in some electronic companies like Philips, despite their having
worked in Dolefil for more than two decades. Worse, management is accusing
workers of being terrorists and has even used armed men to harass them.
BY MARYA G. SALAMAT
Asking for slightly
better wages and launching legal and peaceful mass actions to advance it
are now “terror” tactics. What’s more, aligning with militant Kilusang
Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) is now considered tantamount
to being a communist which, although supposedly legal in the Philippines,
renders the accused persons open to rights violations.
This is the
frightening reality confronting the 5,280-member union of hourly
rank-and-file workers in Dole Philippines at Polomolok, South Cotabato, as
well as their fellow KMU-affiliated unions in Region XII.
Dolefil workers have
been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the management
since April this year. But so far, the situation they’re in has compelled
members to describe it as akin to Martial Law years. They say that
compared to their past CBA negotiations “harassments now are much, much
In the course of
their months-long negotiations (that is yet to end this week, with the
Department of Labor and Employment’s assumption of jurisdiction) the
Dolefil management has repeatedly downscaled its already low wage increase
proposal and has even wrested away some hard-won benefits of the union in
past CBA’s. As if reduced wage increases and benefits are not yet enough,
it is even slapping with illegal suspension at least two thousand of its
workers and has illegally dismissed at least two, in retaliation for
actively taking part in the struggle for a good CBA.
ado about KMU
Amado Kadena (Asosasyon
sa mga Mamumuo sa Dolefil alang sa Kalingkawasan ug Demokrasya sa Nasud or
Association of Workers of Dolefil or Association of Workers of Dolefil for
Freedom and Democracy), the Dolefil workers’ union, is affiliated with
NAFLU-KMU, (National Federation of Labor Unions - Kilusang Mayo Uno).
Since 2001, Amado Kadena has in two separate certification elections
resoundingly decided to align itself with “genuine, militant, nationalist
and anti-imperialist” unions.
But it has outraged
the management of the world’s biggest integrated pineapple plantation,
cannery and packaging complex. (Dolefil operates on a 14,000-hectare area
in South Cotabato. It has its own can manufacturing plant, corrugated box
manufacturing plant, and an international shipping and wharf facility.) It
is the biggest employer in Region XII, supplying most of Dole’s pineapple
exports and source of profits. Dole Philippines’ profitability is such
that it has enabled its foreign owners to further expand and operate new
plantations in Mindanao.
Since the union first
aligned formally with NAFLU-KMU in 2001, the Dolefil management has been
hell-bent on crushing their union. It is using yellow unions and
anti-communist organizations such as ANAD and ALSA-MASA to discredit the
militant union. It is urging the union officers to disaffiliate and be
“independent.” While failing to do so, the management is trying to crush
the union by orchestrating an all-out effort, backed by most of the local
government, business community, military and radio, to force Amado Kadena
to swallow a substandard CBA.
violence is nothing new to Dolefil especially during CBA negotiations,”
said Amado Kadena’s education committee. In July 2001 in the course of
their CBA negotiations, two M79 grenades were lobbed at the KMU office in
Polomolok. In this year’s CBA negotiations, “Dolefil hired military
intelligence agents posted as workers, aside from workers given special
assignments as intelligence agents,” said Amado Kadena’s research
At least twenty men
wearing camouflage pants, hiding their faces in bonnets, and armed with
high-powered rifles such as M16’s, arrived in the dead of night last
month, parked their six by six truck in front of the Amado Kadena office,
deployed some men to train their guns at the union office and its guard
while the others tore down and burned the streamers. They were heard
mouthing expletives and threatened to kill whoever would come out of the
Amado Kadena Union office to stop them.
The burning spree
occurred following days of persistent efforts of members of Amado
Kadena-NAFLU-KMU to hang their streamers after these were repeatedly
removed at night by people believed to be paid by the management.
Since June this year
while CBA negotiations were still ongoing, workers also complained of
placards and graffiti appearing in the streets of Polomolok linking KMU
with the CPP-NPA.
After the union
officers told Dolefil management that the latter will be held responsible
if the unionists were murdered as a result of red-baiting, signatories
such as ANAD and ALSA-MASA began appearing in the red-baiting placards.
Since then, leaflets demonizing the KMU as a “terrorist organization” also
began to circulate more heavily in Dolefil and South Cotabato.
strongly against the union. Labor cooperatives supplying contractual
workers to Dolefil and Billy Baitus, a Polomolok municipal councilor, led
anti-KMU and anti-strike caravans. Amado Kadena’s research committee
revealed that many contractual workers were forced to join these caravans
as they were threatened of losing their job contracts if they failed to do
In Dolefil itself,
the management has upped its campaign against Amado Kadena; it holds
frequent meetings to drum into the workers’ heads that the KMU is a
terrorist organization, a saboteur, etc.
by Bulatlat said the Dolefil management is staging scenes of
sabotage and blaming it on the union even if they can’t (or won’t)
identify the true culprits For instance, they would unload chunks of steel
into pineapple canners and cry that it’s the KMU’s fault.
Led by British Kevin
Davis, managing director and executive vice-president, the Dolefil
management appears bent in attacking the workers further. According to the
workers, Davis keeps telling them: “The more you go against me the more I
At the early phase of
CBA negotiations this year, the Dolefil management has effectively
crippled the union’s minimart after stopping the management practice of
automatically deducting from the workers’ salaries their payable account
to the minimart. Now, the management is trying to bypass the union’s role
in distributing rice, a hard-won gain from past CBA, by forcing the
workers to sign a waiver and get it instead “as cash directly” from
A fully owned
subsidiary of US multinational Dole Food Company, Dolefil accounts for the
bulk of Dole Food Company's total pineapple output. It claims that it is
“committed to provide employees with a decent income and opportunities to
grow professionally with a year round training and development program.”
But Amado Kadena’s experiences say otherwise.
Adds the unions’s
research committee, the terms corporate social responsibility and social
accountability, trumpeted loudly in Dolefil’s ISO certification, are
simply “euphemisms for brazen attacks on workers’ trade union rights.”
The majority of
Dolefil’s almost 15,000 workforce are contractual workers who get lower
than the region’s prescribed minimum wage. Among the regular and unionized
workers, the majority gets only P200 to P400 ($3.99 - $4.99 at an exchange
rate of $1=P50.01) per day. Only those who’ve been with the company for
twenty to thirty years are receiving more than P500 ($9.99) per day.
“Their wages can’t
even compare with the salary levels of younger workers in some electronic
companies like Philips, despite their having worked in Dolefil for more
than two decades,” said Tony Pascual, NAFLU-KMU’s general secretary.
And yet, the millions
of tons of pineapples produced, canned and shipped annually by Dolefil
workers had brought billions of profits to the US multinational company,
said Tony Pascual. The decision and capability to build more plantations
in Mindanao are just some of its proofs, he adds.
But the way Dolefil’s
managing director, Kevin Davis, has been pummeling the workers with
threats, illegal suspensions and even dismissals and outright coercion, it
looks like Dolefil has a radically different interpretation of its
promised “decent income” to employees.
As of this writing
Dolefil still has to come up with an improved offer of its 2.25 percent
wage increase proposal, a figure that did not even come close to the
region’s seven percent inflation rate. According to Amado Kadena’s
research committee, the measly increase also points to a miserable trend
for the workers not only in Dolefil, which has witnessed a steadily
plunging rates of wage increases since 2004, but also for workers in the
entire region. Bulatlat
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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