New military commander assigned in Polomolok, South Cotabato. Conspiracy to frustrate free, honest and clean union election tomorrow, alarming.

Less than a week prior to the highly-political union elections in Dole Philippines set tomorrow, February 22, Lt. Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, commander of 27th Infantry Battalion in Polomolok, South Cotabato was replaced by Col. Ricardo Visaya.  The sudden change came two weeks after Lt. Col Joel Alejandro Nacnac signed the Social Accord stating that the military will not interfere and will avoid its presence in areas where contending local unions at Dole Philippines facilities are conducting activities and to   “act as a stand-by peace-keeping force in case untoward incidents will occur.”

 

The Social Accord facilitated by Department of Labor and Employment,(DOLE) is aimed at helping ensure that the highly contested union election in multinational giant Dole Philippines (Dolefil) will be clean, fair and workers can vote their choice freely.

 

Col. Visaya appointment as the new commander of the 27th Infantry Battallion on February 16 just in time for the union election alarms the incumbent union, AMADO-KADENA-NAFLU-KMU, as well as other labor rights groups who are tightly observing the union elections and implementation of the Social Accord.  The alarm is not without basis.

 

Around 9pm on February 18, a night following Visaya’s appointment, troops’ movement around the area which temporarily lain low following the signing of the Accord, resumed. A group of ten armed and uniformed military men riding a 6×6 military truck was seen roaming around the communities of Dolefil. The military vehicle passed in front of AK-NAFLU-KMU’s office twice that night. The rounds happened after a grenade was thrown but did not blow in Brgy Pulutana. Residents and members of AK-NAFLU-KMU however, suspect that the incident is contrived to justify the military’s continued presence in the area.

 

In Barangay Asuncion, the village nearest to the polling areas, the Barangay Defense System (BDS)—the combined civilian and military non-uniformed  unit trained and commanded by the military— is encamped in a day care center. The 6×6 military vehicle is parked just outside the day care center, in full view of residents and workers living in the village. BDS elements replaced the regular military forces stationed there previously but pulled-out after the Accord.

 

“The mere presence of a military vehicle much more armed men roaming around the community can be very dreadful to the villagers and workers,” says Daisy Arago, Executive Director of labour and human rights organization, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). “Workers and community residents of Dolefil particularly those who are sympathetic to the incumbent AK_NAFLU-KMU had been complaining of military harassments for five years.  This problem is a subject of complaint filed at the ILO, and at the Social Accountability International (SAI). Both mechanisms had recommended withdrawal of troops in the workplaces and noted that military presence constitutes violations of freedom of association. Dolefil management is incorrigible and does not abide by the recommendations. Having signed the Social Accord they are bound to stop any acts that may prejudice the workers’ exercise of their rights to choose their representatives freely. The military is no party to union affairs. It is only correct that they abide by the Social Accord which they signed, even if they argued that Dolefil requested their presence. The Philippine military is bound to serve the interest of Filipino people, workers included, instead of narrow and selfish interest of multinational corporation” Arago added.

 

Trail of gross human rights violations

 

Col. Ricardo Visaya used to head the 69th Infantry Batallion-Philippine Army based in Pampanga at the height of implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya II in Central Luzon under the command of the notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan. During his term, trade unionists particularly those who were identified to be progressive and militant whether or not they were affiliated with KMU in Pampanga had been hounded, `invited’ and threatened to resign from the union or disaffiliate with KMU.  Strings of other human rights violations, apart from those mentioned is vilification of progressive and militant organizations were recorded and in fact became the subject of numerous complaints filed at various national and international human rights bodies.

 

After Central Luzon, Col Visaya headed the Civilian Military Operations of Philippine Army (CMO-PA) in Quezon city-National Capital Region which paved the way for the militarization of urban Metro Manila at the even of 2007 national election. Church, civil society as well the Commission of Human Rights at the time heavily criticized and called for immediate withdrawal of the military presence for its intimidating effect, vilification and reported harassments against members of militant partylist organizations.

Dangerous precedent

 

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights expressed its wary and deep concern over the sudden change in Army leadership Polomolok, South Cotabato can be detrimental to the objectives of the Social Accord signed by the parties to ensure a clean, fair, and honest union elections this February 22. The resumption of active military movement is a clear violation of this Accord, and we call on DOLE to step in to preserve the purpose and spirit of the Accord. The Accord, first in the history of union election is important, and failure of the Accord because the company and military simply refuse to abide by it, can set a dangerous precedent in any attempt to restore democracy in the workplace.

 

“We are wary that Col Visaya, being a new commander and himself not a signatory to the Accord, may simply ignore the agreement. The military can use this as an excuse to pursue campaigns that will malign AK-NAFLU-KMU. Any acts in violation of the agreement must be stopped immediately,” Arago explained.

 

The Social Accord was signed on January 31 by the participating unions, AK-NAFLU-KMU and LEAD-PH), the Dolefil management, the director of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region XII Atty. Gloria  and  the Regional head of the Commission on Human Rights and the local government officials. A tripartite industrial peace council (TIPC) headed by the DOLE Region XII director was formed to monitor the situation and compliance of all signatories to the Accord.

 

The Accord was a product of complaints and dialogues that CTUHR, KMU and Washington-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) held with the DOLE and the CHR aimed at building an independent monitoring body to ensure a free and fair elections in Dole Philippines. The move was prompted by the long-standing harassment, intimidation, and union discrimination against the democratically-elected union, AK-NAFLU-KMU experienced under the management and the military since 2006.

Other violations and vilification intensify

 

Other than the military, the company-backed union Labor Employees Association in Dole Polomolok Hourly’s (LEAD-PH) has violated the Accord. The Accord instructs each union “to  refrain from giving statements that may ruin the reputation of some persons…”  But in February 17, an open letter using AK-NAFLU-KMU’s letterhead circulated thanking the mayor for his P2.5 million and 500 sacks of rice donations to AK-NAFLU-KMU and the CPP-NPA. Members of AK-NAFLU-KMU denied having released such a letter and filed a complaint at the Tripartite committee.

 

In last ditch of effort to pre-empt victory for AK-NAFLU-KMU , Dolefil management cancelled the work on days allotted for AK-NAFLU-KMU’s campaign (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) and implemented double shifts on days allotted to LEAD-PH’s campaign (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).

Tripartite’s response

 

On February 19, Saturday an emergency meeting of the TIPC was held upon the request of AK-NAFLU-KMU’s regarding the violations of the Accord. Dole management and LEAD-PH however did not attend the meeting. The tripartite resolved to issue a communication to the parties reminding them of the Accord and promised to dispatch monitoring teams beginning Sunday, February 20.#

Final blow

 

CTUHR warns about the possibility of a final blow of the military and Dolefil management to frustrate another win for AK-NAFLU-KMU night before the elections.. “The workers and every labour rights’ advocate following up this case should not let their guard down. This condition reminds of 2007 national election in Metro Manila where residents are pre-empted and threatened to campaign and vote for militant partylist Anakpawis, Gabriela and Bayan Muna until the very last minute of voting. AK-NAFLU-KMU holds the record of being the sole democratically-elected union in all of DOLE Foods facilities all over the world, and frustrating them is a direct attack not only to Filipino workers at Dolefil but also to workers in other parts of the world slaving for Dole Foods.#

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KMU decries Dole, military’s dirty tactics in union certification elections

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today Dole Philippines and the military’s dirty tactics in the ongoing campaign period for a union certification elections in the transnational giant’s plantation in Polomolok, South Cotabato, saying the two are hell-bent on boxing out the genuine pro-worker union and installing a union subservient to them.

The Center for Trade-Union and Human Rights, a non-government organization, reports that the DolePhil management and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 27th Infantry Battalion are committing violations of the “Social Accord” signed by various stakeholders for the fair and honest conduct of the Feb. 22 certification elections in the plantation. DolePhil employs more than 20,000 workers in its South Cotabato plantation.

Competing in the certification elections are Amado Kadena, a union affiliated with the National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU, and Lead-PH, a union created and supported by the DolePhil management and the military. The election comes in the wake of various harassments and dirty tactics – including anti-communist propaganda and door-to-door campaigns of the military as well as punitive and retaliatory actions of the management – directed at Amado Kadena.

The CTUHR reports the following violations to the social accord:

·        Management coercing workers to sign a master list as proof that they will vote for Lead-PH

·        Management canceling work shifts on campaign days allotted to Amado Kadena while doublingwork shifts on campaign days allotted to Lead-PH

·        Military presence in workers’ communities is continuing – especially with the deployment of Col.Ricardo Visaya, a well-known human rights violator, as head of the 27th IB.

·      Military presence in communities close to the polling area is continuing.

“The Dole Phil management and the AFP are continuing their non-stop campaign of harassment and vilification against the genuine pro-worker union in the company’s plantation. Dole cannot stand the presence of Amado Kadena, the only democratically-elected, and not management-installed, workers’ union in its plantation anywhere in the world,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“Just like in other companies nationwide, the genuine pro-worker workers’ union is being branded a communist front in an attempt to legitimize the management and the military’s dirty tactics aimed at destroying the union. The real cause of the repression, of course, is that Dole Phil workers with the leadership of Amado Kadena were able to achieve various gains – including the regularization of more than 1,500 contractuals,” Labog added.

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Thousands of workers at DOLE Philippines to go out for union elections. Union, labor NGO decry management attempts at vote buying.

Amidst combined management and military moves to oust the militant union, workers at Dole Philippines (Dolefil) in South Cotabato, Mindanao brace themselves for representation in a hotly contested union election this February 22. Incumbent AMADO-KADENA-NAFLU-KMU (AK-NAFLU-KMU) long besieged by management dismissals of its union officers, anti-communist propaganda and harassments managed to withstand the attacks and are now fighting neck-to-neck against management-supported union, Labor Employees Association in Dole-Polomolok Hourly’s (LEAD-PH).

Note: This article can also be read in CTUHR’s website. Read Here.

Apparently unmoved by condemnation and criticisms from various organizations here and abroad, Dolefil management through LEAD-PH is now using multi-faceted tactics to dissuade workers and their family members employed by Dolefil from voting AK-NAFLU-KMU. These include threats of dismissal, closure, non-renewal of contracts in the labour cooperatives, intimidation, and splurging on workers with merienda and perks.

Mr. Jose Teruel, AK-NAFLU-KMU president said that they expect the management to do anything and everything to oust their union. He narrated that Since 2006 Dolefil management have been waging an organized and vigorous campaign in cahoots with the military to harass AK members and weaken the union. On February 2010, the management took over the union and installed the management-controlled Francis Gales-UR-DOLE, which for purpose of forthcoming union election became LEAD-PH.

Teruel added that these had to stop before the gains of their 12-year struggle to uplift the condition of Dolefil workers are completely reversed. Beginning 2001, AK-NAFLU-KMU have won through a collective bargaining agreement rice subsidy, increased workers’ wages and benefits, and promotion to regular status of 1,500 contractual workers. In 2006, workers voted overwhelmingly for AK-NAFLU-KMU and its officers won on landslide victory in the local election (election to choose to the union officers) solidifying the union support and prestige not only from its members but from nearly 20,000 workers employed by the company.

Management and military connivance

Dolefil management wasn’t happy however with the rising support that the union gets. In an unprecedented move, the Army suddenly became visible inside the company premises and openly inviting workers to attend anti-union and anti communist forums. Under the pretext of counter-insurgency operation and weeding out the union from alleged communist infiltration, both Dolefil management and the military bonded together to harass union officers and vilify the KMU-affiliated AK-NAFLU.

Parallel to this, the company squeezed the union’s finances by refusing to automatically deduct from salaries the payments of members’ loan from the union Mini-mart despite the members prior check-off authorization.  This left the union to follow-up payments individually which was not only difficult but also time consuming. In protest, union members implemented a N0-SWIPE action (ie. Non-swsiping of IDs before entering the premises). Company retaliation was fiercer, and officers were suspended and eventually dismissed without paying the salaries and benefits.

Complaints on Dolefil’s violations

The harassments and anti-union moves employed by management and the military were elevated in a complaint filed by Kilusang Mayo Uno at the International Labor Organization (ILO) and even at the US Trade Representative. The ILO made a positive recommendation for the Philippine government to look into the military harassments and respect the freedom of association.

In the same manner, the Social Audit International (SAI)—a management system of ensuring companies, given an SA 8000 certification, to comply with international labour standards—conducted an audit on Dole Philippines. The audit strongly noted that violations of international standards including right to freedom of association that Dolefil committed against AK- NAFLU-KMU, zeroing on military harassments. Further it recommended that Dolefil implements corrective measures which the latter arrogantly ignored.

“Instead [of implementing the corrective measures], Dolefil fanned, organized, supported and installed a group of workers—the Gales UR-DOLE as a counter-measure in calculated move to decimate AK- NAFLU-KMU,” said Daisy Arago, executive director of Center for Trade Union and Human Rights.

She further noted that the management always found an ally with the military that has been on behest of management call to whip their public anti-union propaganda and that  management attempts of defeating AK- NAFLU-KMU could have gone smoothly if not for the resistance of union members and their overwhelming support from various labour and human rights organizations here and abroad.

Failure to silence condemnation

“Whilst Dolefil can possibly buy off a management system like SAI, it has failed to silence the condemnations and criticisms that its actions have generated from national and international organizations,” Arago added.

SAI is now under attack following Dole’s inactions with regard the corrective measures. Unions in the board of SAI threatened to resign if SAI cannot wield its authority to implement recommendations over Dolefil.

“If union board members withdraw from SAI, the latter faces the risk of losing its relevance in a capitalists’ world, where companies are trying to project that they too can be socially responsible and make the system more palatable.  SAI—as a management system—becoming irrelevant in a time where capitalism is in crisis and under attack is a big loss to the capitalists, not to the workers, that they [capitalists] cannot afford to happen,” Arago explained.

Wise and shrewd moves

Dolefil on January 31 signed unquestioningly an Accord for a fair, clean and democratice elections. The Accord was prepared and brokered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) together with the Philippine Army, the local government, LEAD-PH, AK-NAFLU-KMU, Dolefil and CHR.

“Dolefil seems to always find a way to temporarily weather the negative impact of its violations of workers rights, on the certification election.  It now maintains a position that existing disputes and all the reasons causing them could be more appropriately resolved by the forthcoming election. A wise and shrewd move that enables the company to buy some time and prepare a new wave of arsenal against the militant union,” Arago noted.

Days after the signing, AK-NAFLU-KMU decried Dolefil and LEAD-PH’s use of money to get votes from workers with bribes and merienda, simultaneous to anti-AK propaganda. LEAD-PH was also given full access to workers to campaign during work hours, a privilege that AK-NAFLU-KMU never had, since the management take over of the union.


23 thousand workers at stake

“In a battle where management power and money are wielded to the disadvantage of the opponent—AK-NAFLU-KMU—the 23,000 workers of Dolefil, not just the AK-NAFLU-KMU will stand to lose if they allow the power and money to woo them into submission and sell of their votes. Remember, that no capitalist invests without expecting a return, Selling-off votes to LEAD-PH is a lost of the gains that AK-NAFLU had won and provided to the workers since 2001,” Arago pointed out.

Arago urged the Dolefil workers not to be afraid “to vote according to what is right” on the coming February 22 elections. “As the old saying goes, threats and intimidation are only good, if the targets and victims are threatened and a united and principled workers cannot simply be threatened by money and power,” she added.#

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Stop trade-union repression in Dole plantation – KMU

Amid preparations for certification elections

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno renewed its call for an end to trade-union repression in Dole Philippines amid preparations for a certification elections (CE) in the multinational company’s plantation in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

In a short program in front of Dole Philippines’ headquarters in Ayala Avenue, Makati City, leaders of the labor center condemned the corporation’s continuing harassment and repression of leaders and members of the legitimate and genuine workers’ union in the plantation.

“Dole Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have done almost everything in the book to repress the workers of Dole. We are calling for an end to Dole Philippines’ repression of the militant workers’ union. We also condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ interference in union affairs and utter disrespect for workers’ trade-union rights,” said Rogelio Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

Last February 2010, officials of the militant workers’ union in Dole Philippines, Amado Kadena-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU, were “impeached” in an illegal but management-backed “general assembly” and were replaced with officials from UR Dole, a union created and supported by the Dole Philippines management.

Defying orders from the Department of Labor and Employment, the Dole Philippines management recognized UR Dole as the workers’ union and released to the latter workers’ union membership dues. Just last month, the Labor Employees Association of Dole Philippines or LeadPH, a union created by UR Dole leaders, filed for a CE. Now, preparations for a CE are underway.

Since AK-NAFLU-KMU won a landslide victory in a CE in March 2006, its leaders and members have experienced non-stop repression and harassment. Their union has been demonized as a “communist front” in the military’s radio program and seminars and they have received numerous death threats. They have also been the target of punitive moves of the management on the basis of fabricated charges.

“Because of the widespread condemnation of the Dole Philippines management’s takeover of the workers’ union last February 2010, the management and the AFP have become desperate to legitimize the rule of the yellow union. They are continuing, and even intensifying, various forms of repression and harassment against militant unionists to ensure victory for their pet union,” Soluta said.

“We are therefore calling on the workers and peoples of the Philippines and the world to pay close attention to the developments in Dole Philippines and condemn trade-union repression in that company. We are calling for support in fighting this giant multinational’s attacks on its poor and repressed workers,” he added.

 

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Stop trade-union repression in Dole Philippines’ plantation!

Elmer “Bong” Labog
Kilusang Mayo Uno
Amidst preparations for a certification elections in Dole Philippines
24 January 2011

 

The Kilusang Mayo Uno labor center condemns the continuing harassment and repression of members and officials of the legitimate labor union in Dole Philippines’ plantation in Polomoloc, South Cotabato – the Amado Kadena–National Federation of Labor Unions–Kilusang Mayo Uno (AK-NAFLU-KMU). We call for an immediate stop to such harassment and repression and for a clean and honest certification election in the coming months. We demand that the trade-union and human rights of about 20,000 workers in Dole Philippines be respected and upheld.

The objective of the ongoing harassment and repression in Dole Philippine is very clear: to weaken, if not eliminate altogether, the pro-worker and militant union AK-NAFLU-KMU and to replace it with the pro-management unions UR Dole and LEAD PH. The perpetrators of the harassment and repression in Dole Philippines are likewise clear: (1) the management of Dole Philippines, which wants to quash the workers’ demands for higher wages, job security and trade-union rights, in order to extract greater profits from the workers, and (2) the national government, which wants to promote its so-called “industrial peace” by any means including the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to better service the rapacity of big local and foreign capitalists for superprofits.

The management takeover of the workers’ union last February 13, 2010 – wherein the management-created UR Dole headed by Francis Gales, orchestrated an illegal “general assembly,” impeached the duly-elected officials of AK-NAFLU-KMU, and replaced the latter with officials from UR Dole – earned vehement protests from throughout the country and the world. Because the move is patently illegal, even the government’s Department of Labor and Employment was forced to call it as such and released a status quo order that nullifies the bogus general assembly and the “impeachment.”  Drunk with arrogance from their seeming invincibility, the Dole Philippines management refused to heed the order. In utter disrespect of the legal processes and collective bargaining agreement, the Dole Philippines management continued to recognize UR Dole and provided it with financial support by releasing to them the union membership dues.

This sham general assembly and “impeachment” was preceded and followed by campaigns of harassment and repression directed at the leaders and members of AK-NAFLU-KMU. These campaigns continue to this day. Most notable among the cases of harassment and repression is the military’s anti-union campaign and open intervention in what should be purely union affairs. Since 2007, the military in cooperation with the Dole Philippines management, has been conducting seminars vilifying AK-NAFLU-KMU as a “communist front.”  Union officers and active members are publicly accused as “enemies of the state” – a very serious accusation amidst the extra-judicial killings in the country. The AFP’s 27th Infantry Battalion has conducted a door-to-door campaign calling for disaffiliation from KMU.

For AK-NAFLU-KMU officials, threats to life and security have become a normal occurrence. Union president Jose Teruel can not count in his fingers the death threats that he has received. Workers known to be supportive of AK-NAFLU-KMU are slapped with fabricated charges and/or subjected to overly-strict discipline such as 6-15 days of suspension for even the most minor of offenses. Very recently, last January 20, union board member Roscelie Busgano was terminated on the basis of a fabricated charge of stealing. For some workers, harassment comes in the form of threats of non-renewal of their relatives’ contracts in the labor cooperative. A soft approach is also being used by the management in the form dangling early retirement packages. Since November 2010, members of AK-NAFLU-KMU have been receiving offers of a 40-day-per-year retirement package in another bid to cut back the union membership.

Desperate for national and international legitimacy for their moves, the management of Dole Philippines, the national government, and the Gales group are now pushing for a certification elections. They created and registered a new union – the Labor Employees Association of Dole Philippines (LEAD PH) – which served as a petitioner to the election. Their goal is to install the pro-management union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent in the most “legitimate” way that they can.

LEAD PH is aggressively recuiting members among the workers. And to ensure that the workers will vote for it, and to not-too-subtly show that it is being supported by the management, those who signed for membership are being asked to sign by oath and are being threatened that if LEAD PH loses in the certification election, it will file a case against the workers who didn’t vote for the union. This is just one of the many dirty and underhanded moves of the yellow union being supported by the Dole Philippines management.

We are calling on the government of the Philippines, headed by President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to order the management of Dole Philippines and the Philippine military to immediately stop all these forms of harassment and repression. We support the demands of AK-NAFLU-KMU for the Dole management to reinstate the terminated workers who have been fired due to their union involvement as well as to pay back wages and benefits that were not given to them.

We are calling on the workers and peoples of the Philippines and the world to keep track of the developments in the certification elections in Dole Philippines. The DOLE has formed a monitoring committee to supposedly ensure a clean and fair certification elections. The military, however, is also a member of the monitoring committee, which casts doubt on the intention of the committee, given the military’s record of interference in union affairs and blatant support for the management-backed union UR Dole and now LEAD PH. We therefore call for a parallel monitoring body, composed of international and local organizations, to ensure an impartial and safe elections.

We are calling on all labor unions, consumer groups, people’s organizations and advocates of trade-union and human rights to make their voices be heard on this issue. Let us condemn and oppose the labor and human rights violations being undertaken by this powerful transnational corporation, with the help of the Philippine government, against workers struggling for a living wage, job security and free exercise of trade-union rights in a far-flung province in the Philippines.

 

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IV. The Situation of the People

The Workers

Although they enjoy higher incomes than the farm laborers and poor peasants do, mainly because of the gains they have won through persistent struggles under their militant and anti-imperialist union, workers also suffer from increasing destitution due to the spiraling cost of basic commodities. They are neck-deep in debts from usurers.

Regular workers

Incomes of regular workers are below the poverty line. However, because of their victories in their CBA struggles, the average income of rank and file workers according to the company, is already PhP373. Still, this is PhP237 or 39 percent lesser than the PhP610 threshold of poverty estimate of the reactionary government for SOCSKSARGEN. Even doubling the wages of the overwhelming majority – the new regular workers who earn a little bigger than the regional daily minimum wage of PhP208–PhP224.5054 – will not enable them to reach the indicated family living wage.

Only those who have worked forthe company for 30 years and nearing retirement and are earning PhP651 daily have incomes a little above the poverty line. They are only eight in all.

Contractual workers

The contractual workers hired by the company through the labor cooperatives are even more destitute and suffer greater exploitation. Apart from doing heavier workload under work “pakyawan” they earn wages PhP148.50–PhP16555 lower than the average wages of regular workers.

They are denied of their rightful benefits like accrued retirement benefit and service incentive pay. Worse, the labor cooperatives also snatch from them ten percent of what the company is actually spending for wages of contractual workers.

Dole Philippines awards 10 percent of what it is paying to contractual workers to the labor cooperatives as incentive for keeping the latter work pakyawan and ineligible for union membership.

The labor cooperatives also charge them PhP100 every for their capital build up.

Farm Laborers and Peasants

Poor peasants and farm laborers comprise the total workforce of the “pakyawanfinanciers”, almost the total workforces of grower cooperatives and DARBCI, and the bigger part of the workforces of the labor cooperatives especially those under East Star whose workforce are deployed in the expansion areas of Dole plantations like in Surallah, Banga and T’boli.

The rest of the workforces of the labor cooperatives come from workers and suburban semi-proletariats who are no longer engaged in farming and live in crowded communities around the company’s huge cannery plant.

The poor peasants and farm laborers suffer extreme exploitation especially from the heavier workload imposed by the “pakyawan-financiers” and grower cooperatives. Those working for the “pakyawan-financiers” earn only around PhP60 on the average. The highest they earn is PhP120 but there are also days when they only earn as low as PhP20. Those working for the grower cooperatives earn a bit more.

The poor peasants and farm workers are also neck-deep in debts from usurers. The grower cooperatives also deduct 3 percent of their wages as their share to the cooperatives’ capital build-up. The labor cooperatives charge PhP100 per month.

___________________________________________________________________________________

The articles published in four parts are based on the study: A Social Investigation on the Impact of Dole Philippines on Conditions in Southern Mindanao by EILER, Inc.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Sources (from EILER):

Forbes Magazine, (2003.)

Dole Food Company in Wikepedia Free Encyclopedia.

Hawaii Big Five.

History of Labor in Hawaii, Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Hawaii. http://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/clear.

Dole website.

KCC Mall Photo Exhibit, December 2006, General Santos City.

Dole Philippines 1995-2005 Financial Statements.

Department of Labor and Employment Philippines.

Polomolok Municipal Profile.

Tupi Municipal Profile.

T’boli Municipal Profile.

Surallah Municipal Profile.

Dole Stanfilco Surallah Banga Workers Labor Union 2005 – 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Dole Philippines Fact Sheet. (2001).

Dole Philippines Agriculture Division.

Dolefil Pineapple Contract Growing Small Grower Economics.


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III. The Conditions in Polomolok: A Case Study

Polomolok town in South Cotabato is the seat of the world’s biggest integrated pineapple plantation, cannery, and packaging complex owned by Dole Philippines. It is where the company established its first plantation in the country in 1963 and cannery plant in 1965.

Once a very rural town producing multiple food crops like rice, corn and cassava, the whole of Polomolok today is one big pineapple plantation. Dole Philippines’ 16,944 hectares pineapple and asparagus plantations comprise 77 percent of the accounted 20,653 hectares total agricultural area of the town.

Almost gone are the food crops with rice lands today comprising only 2 percent and corn lands 21 percent. The overwhelming majority of the unaccounted 8,673 hectares40 is part of Dole’s plantation under the names of dummies.

Peasants and farm workers are the majority of the town’s population comprising 52 percent. Next, are the workers and semi-workers; then the middle class, most of whom are shop owners and small peddlers, the professionals being only 2 percent; and last is the handful of landlords ruling in behalf of the company over the town’s people.

Poverty, hunger, severe unemployment and other social problems hound the lives of the town’s population.

Once a surplus food producer, Polomolok today imports 87 percent of its rice requirement. Real unemployment including the 6,608 listed as having no regular jobs and the 28,478 arbitrarily de-listed “as not in the labor force” is more than 50 percent of the 69,938 working age population.

The plantations have ousted the majority from the spacious farms. About 50 percent live in a mere 11 percent of the town’s land area, in the three barangays surrounding the company’s cannery, most of them in poor and overcrowded communities.

Thousands of peasants especially the indigenous peoples who remained in the farms live in crumbling bamboo huts in far-flung and poverty-ridden villages lacking in basic services such as schools for the children’s education and electricity. There are no sources of potable water and the only accesses are dusty roads submerged in flood during the rainy season.

They live through subsistence farming, planting cassava and corn for their direct consumption in very tiny plots that look like sinking islets amidst a boundless ocean of pineapple plants.

Feudal hustlers and tyrants hold sway in the town. The most despotic among them, Billy “Nonoy” Baitus, an autocratic leader of the anti-communist group Alliance for National Democracy or ANAD, operates Baitus Trucking and Allied Services that monopolizes hauling of Dole produce from the farms to the cannery and packing plants. He co-owns the firm together with the big landlord-bourgeois comprador Jimmy Villacorta, the agriculture division director of Dole Philippines.

Baitus also controls the fake labor cooperative Misamis Oriental Allied Services Cooperative (MORASCO), the biggest labor supplier of the company’s agriculture division.

He controls 98 percent of the workforce of the company’s four mobile packing plants. To help their minion avoid legal charges for engaging in “labor only contracting” the company gave Baitus the privilege of using one of its boom harvesters free of charge.

He is also Dole Philippines’ point man in Sarangani. He was tasked with negotiating with local executives to pave the way for the company’s expansion in the province. He now controls a big part of the plantations in Saranggani as company contract grower using farms leased to him by peasants. His 200 hectares in Lamlangi comprise 62.5 percent of the 320 hectares contracted by Dole Philippines in the whole municipality of Maasin. The rest are under the growers cooperatives.”

He is a fascist warlord. He maintains a private army whose members include goons of ex-MILF commander but now Philippine Military Academy draftee Bong Faizal. He is using this private army to secure his despotic reign as the town’s biggest landlord and for intimidating organizations opposing the company. Last year, several members of the private army assaulted the headquarters of workers who were preparing for a strike.

A town executive, Ed Lumayag, is the biggest contractor supplying Dole Philippines with mechanical, electrical and civil works services through his firm CHL named after his wife Clemen H. Lumayag. Like Baitus, Lumayag is also using one of the company’s boom harvesters free of charge.

There are the feudal crocodiles controlling the yellow unions and other so-called labor cooperatives and grower cooperatives assisting the company in implementing labor contractualization and mobilization of the lands of Polomolok for the company’s use. They also engage in usury and other semi-feudal parasitism.

The most notorious are Danilo Tuminlaco and Ronald Dunasco who have made DARBCI their milking cow, the yellow union NFL-PAMAO leader William Laddaran who connived with the company in the covert establishment of the “labor cooperatives”, and others.

Then there are the notorious hacks renting their services to the company. Among them is the radio announcer Bobot Cruz who uses his program in portraying Dole Philippines as the town’s benevolent benefactor in attacking the legal national democratic organizations.

These feudal hustlers and tyrants’ connivance with the company in promoting its schemes caused the unprecedented destitution suffered by the masses and the whole town today. In 1991 for example, their connivance resulted in the termination of the employment of 4,000 regular workers receiving PhP210 in daily wages won through militant struggle. About the same number of contractual workers recruited from the fake labor cooperatives receiving only Ph104 in daily wages replaced them. In consequence the savings from the wage cut further increased the company’s superprofits by PhP424,000 per workday; PhP5.088Millions per 12-days workweek; and PhP10.176Millions per month.

Conversely, the working masses lost the same amount in their incomes that caused local businesses especially service and commerce engaged in by the bulk of the town’s petty bourgeoisie to nosedive.

Such are the social conditions in the world’s pineapple capital.

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