DAVAO CITY – Banana’s ranking as the leading export commodity in the Philippines this year “does not help the situation of the workers”, a labor group said.
An annual report of the regional office here of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Friday said that the banana industry ranked first with 54 per cent of the top 10 leading export commodities.
DTI-XI Director, Edwin Banquerigo, also claimed that while banana workers belong to the agriculture industry, “they are not part of the sector where poverty is high.”
“The banana industry had been providing some economic support to the workers a bit high compared to the other industries,” the director claimed.
Labor organization, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), however, said that the data “is not proportional to the current situation of the workers in the industry who did most of the hard work.”
Romualdo Basilio of KMU in the region said that “DTI should look and survey on the actual situation of the workers of the banana industry to be able to tell their real situation.”
Basilio said that “the majority of the workers are still contractuals and are not well compensated.”
Based on KMU’s record, “the regular ones are earning P302/day in the industry while those who are contractuals are earning P150 – P200 per day depending on the job they are doing.”
There are about 75-80 percent of contractual workers in the banana industry as of 2014, Basilio said.
Basilio said that “even the standard minimum wage (P310) cannot even sustain the basic needs of the workers including the education and health of their families.”
He added that the large number of workers under contract “are threatened by the possibility of losing their jobs after their contracts expire.”
“The situation in the labor sector would only improve if there will be no more contractual workers,” Basilio said.
Meanwhile, Banquerigo said that the total share of the banana industry on the list of top 10 exported commodities is “deducted value” due to the effects of typhoon Pablo that hit the region December 2013.
He said that “it could reach up to 60 per cent” of the total share of the exported commodities.
The top 10 exported goods include the coconut oil (15.3 percent), dessicated coconut (6.7 percent), fresh pineapple (4.3 percent), banana chips (4.2 percent), rubber (2.2 percent), activated carbon (2.1 percent), gold and silver (1.8 percent), copra (1.5 percent), and mango (1.4 percent).
As of 2012, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said that the Davao Region remained the country’s number one producer of banana, and topped the total agricultural output in the region with 37.02 per cent share. (davaotoday.com)