DAVAO CITY – The Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao filed “a formal complaint against the Philippine government with the International Labour Organization (ILO) for violating Convention 87 and 98” before the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) XI Thursday.

According to the ILO websites, the  Convention 87 is “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise” and Convention 98 is “Convention Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.”

Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU-SMR, said that workers are “deprived of such rights under the convention which the Philippines is a signatory as cases of harassments, threats and intimidation go unabated.”

Olalo said that the government is “assimilating” Oplan (operation plan) Bayanihan, the government’s anti-insurgency campaign, into labor issues.

Olalo said in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, union members of Musahamat Farms 2 Workers Labor an affiliate of KMU and the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) “were interrogated by elements of the 71st Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army) who were wearing full battle gear.”

The workers were allegedly “videotaped and made to pose in front of paraphernalia of the underground communist movement, as if they were rebel surrenderees,” he said.

He said that one of their leaders, Vicente Barrios, president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa  Suyapa Farm (Namasufa) “was fired upon and held at gunpoint by Jesus Jamero, contractor of Japanese banana company Sumifru (Sumitumo Fruits Corporation) and is still receiving death threats.”

Olalo said that Artemio Robilla, president, and Danilo Delegencia, board-of-director of the Dole-Stanfilco (banana company) Workers’ Union (DWU) in Maragusan, Compostela Valley, are facing “trumped-up criminal charges for the killing of the company’s supervisor Notalio Mamon last February 3, 2014.”

He said that Robilla and Delegencia “were instrumental in helping illegally dismissed workers to claim their retirement benefits which the company refused to pay.”

He said the act was a “retribution and repression masterminded by the company and the Army and fueled by the regime’s Oplan Bayanihan in an attempt to stamp out militant trade unionism in the area.”

Meanwhile, Joel Maglungsod, vice-president for Mindanao of KMU said the first case they filed in the ILO was in 2009 against Wiper (Workers’ for Industrial Peace and Economic Reform).”

“They employ the same tactics to prevent the workers from organizing themselves and fighting for their rights,” said Maglungsod.

Brian Campbell, an attorney of International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), in his testimony before the Committee on Appropriations, Sub-Committee on State, Foreign Operations of the United States Congress last March 2009 describe the WIPER as “composed entirely of plain clothed military officers.”

Attorney Jonas Balais, arbiter-mediator of Dole-XI, said “an ILO complaint has to do with state agencies’ violation the rights of workers in freedom of organization and bargaining which the Dole itself has no jurisdiction,” said Balais.

“But since they (KMU) filed a case, we can check the allegations and we can already make a report out of their complaint and submit it to our national office,” Balais said.

He said that for ILO cases, they will form an “inter-agency committee for coordination and monitoring of ILO conventions 87 and 98” group. This includes the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Commission to “look into the merits of the case by interviewing all those who are involved like the workers and others involved as there are allegations.”

Maglungsod said that they consider an ILO case an “elevation” of a case filed before the Dole and the courts in the country.

Maglungsod, however said, that “workers must have unity for any case to prosper even if it’s filed in international arenas.” (davaotoday.com)

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