workers urged

Members of the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno in a march rally in Davao City. (File photo)

DAVAO CITY — A labor union won a seat as the sole negotiator for the rank and file workers at a Pantukan banana plantation owned by the Kuwait-based Sabel International Group.

Despite a recent smear campaign that attempted at linking them to the New People’s Army (NPA), the Musahamat Workers Labor Union II – National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno (MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU) retained its status as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent (SEBA) of the workers at Musahamat Farms, Inc.

Esperidion Cabaltera, the union president, said their victory “is a triumph of workers against management and state repression of our rights to wages, security of tenure, and rights.”

The union overrode its rival union federated under Associated Labor Unions – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

As the SEBA of the company, the MWLU II is now the legal personality to represent the said workers and be management’s equal in collective bargaining negotiations.

“It indicates workers’ united resistance to an employer’s duplicity and exploitative practices. Despite all machinations undertaken by management, such as illegal suspension of union leaders and unabated smear campaigns against our person, union, and federation in cahoots with the 46th IB of Philippine Army, the collective strength of the workers prevailed today and it is a happy victory,” said Cabaltera.

In 2015, MWLU II filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization (ILO) against Army officials for compelling union officers to interrogation and presenting them as rebel surrenderees. Since then, the union has endured constant threats and stigmatization from management and state forces.

On February 17, KMU said the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion have been actively campaigning against them through peace and development outreach programs that included lectures to discourage workers not to support the KMU during the election.

The smear campaign, however, turns out to be ineffective.

KMU Southern Mindanao congratulated its affiliate union and vowed anew that it will not hesitate to fight against trade union repression and human rights violations in whatever form.

It also acknowledged the support of other local KMU unions who campaigned in Pantukan to debunk the charges leveled against KMU as the true essence of being in a federation.

“Every victory achieved through collective action emboldens the workers’ movement and the people’s movement to push for meaningful social change,” said Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU Southern Mindanao. (

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