COMPOSTELA, Philippines – Several workers under Nagkahiusang mga Mag-uuma sa Suyafa Farms (NAMASUFA) of Sumifro Philippines Company were wounded in a commotion on Thursday morning after some unidentified men accompanied by the members of Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines attempted to disperse the strike camp.
In a phone interview, John Paul Dizon, Namasufa president said that seven members were wounded after unidentified men started to disperse the strike at Packing Plant 220.
He also identified two workers: Jimboy Cagas and Ramil Monte who were arrested and beaten by the authorities after they tried to protect their strike camp.
Cagas and Monte were eventually released after the commotion, he said.
Dizon also reported that soldiers and police tried to enter his house near the strike camp which he viewed as “clear harassment and trespassing of private property.”
“These people are not workers as what they are saying. Some of them are riding a motorcycle passing our house and in the camp wearing bonnets and camps. We suspect that they also have guns” said Dizon.
Another commotion in Plant 115 happened following the dispersal in Plant 220 according to Namasufa Vice president Elizar Diayon.
Diayon said that some unidentified men accompanied by the police and soldiers tried to disperse the workers.
“They arrived here this morning around 10 am trying to disperse us. They destroyed the camp and allow us to strike,” he added.
The union questioned the presence of the dispersal teams in the seven different strike camps after the RTC 11 Branch 56 of Compostela Valley dismissed the issuance of preliminary injunction filed by Sumifru on October 6 restraining the members of KMU who are responsible for blocking the ingress and egress of the banana plantation.
Dizon reiterated that the authorities should respect the court’s decision and allow the workers to continue to strike.
“We are not doing illegal here. We are following what’s in the law and the law clearly stated that it is our right to strike,” Dizon said.
On October 5 an assumption of jurisdiction listed in Department Order No. 40-H-13 was also issued by the Department of Labor and Employment, stating that the company is losing a total of P38 Million per day and ‘that any stoppage of the company’s adversely affecting public good and public interest.’
Sumifru Philippines Corporation (Sumifru) is a Japanese multinational company (JMNC) engaged in the sourcing, production, shipment, and marketing of various fresh fruits, primarily the export of quality Cavendish bananas, pineapple, and papaya. The company operates in more than 12,000 hectares in Mindanao.
In Compostela, Sumifru operates in more or less 2, 200 hectares with 9 packing plants totaling a production capacity of at least 19,000 boxes per day or 7 million boxes per year. The company gross daily income is P19 million per day in its Compostela operations alone.
It has more or less 4700 workforces that according to the company, of the total, 3,000 oof these workers comes from the 300 growers and 1, 700 are packing plant workers.
These striking workers are organized under the union Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). NAMASUFA is a consolidated union of regular rank and file workers of 9 packing plants (PP) who consider Sumifru as their employer under the law.
Those on strike were workers from 8 different packing plants (PP 220, PP 230, PP 340, PP 115, PP 370, PP 250, PP 260) organized previously organized under local unions, namely:
1. Nagkahisuang Mamumuo sa San Miguel
2. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Jose
3. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm
4. Packing Plant 92 Workers Union
5. Packing Plant 340 Workers Union
6. San Miguel Workers Union
7. Maparat- Montevista Workers Union
8. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Pilar-Mangayon
Meanwhile, according to KMU’s Southern Mindanao chapter, Sumifru’s failure to negotiate with their own union is a violation of Article 262 of the Labor Code.
They also condemned the “violent dispersal and other attacks on workers under Namasufa’ which they said the company has violated the right to freedom of association ‘by colluding with the military to intimidate and harass union members who are fighting against their unfair labor practices.”(davaotoday.com)