DAVAO CITY – Workers of Japanese-owned Sumitomo Fruits, Co. (Sumifru) demanded the full remittance of their monthly health and social security contributions that they claimed were not paid to the government agencies.
Vicente Barrios, president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (Namasufa), said more than a hundred workers mounted a protest march around the town center of Compostela, Compostela Valley.
The union said the Sumifru did not remit their contributions to the Social Security System, the Philhealth and the Pag-ibig housing since July last year but they only learned of it last October.
Barrios said that they only knew that their remittances were not updated after many workers and their family members complained that they were asked to pay the full billing by hospitals instead of receiving deductions from PhilHealth.
“What SUMIFRU is doing to us is a grave injustice,” said Barrios.
Barrios said that they “demand that Sumifru revert to the old arrangement and to remit our contributions to Compostela Banana Packing Plant Workers’ Cooperative (CBPPWC).”
The workers allowed the cooperative to collect their contributions until the Sumifru and Namasufa were embroiled in a legal controversy over the recognition of an employer-employee relationship. The CBPPWC is the cooperative formed by Namasufa members.
Sumifru has denied it is the employer of the workers belonging to Plant 90, but the courts up to the level of the Court of Appeals have ruled in favor of the workers, maintaining that Sumifru is the direct employer of the banana packing plant workers, said Barrios in a statement.
Barrios said that Namasufa and Sumifru “have maintained an arrangement wherein all social benefits of union members are remitted to the (CBPPWC) while awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court.”
“If the remittances will be paid for by Mobasco, it will be reflected as our employer and not Sumifru. This will place the workers in a difficult situation. It will endanger our survival as a union and with it, all our rights and benefits,” he said.
Barrios said that they have also asked the National Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and Employment to intervene.
“The Dole has not issued an order and instead made us go into a mock arrangement under the Sena (Single Entry Approach),” he said.(davaotoday.com)