DAVAO CITY – Growers and workers of Japanese-owned banana plantation in Compostela Valley protested the piece rate system which reportedly cut workers and growers wages by more than half.

Workers from the the nine packing plants of Sumifru Corp., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp., in Compostela protested in front of the Sumifru Office here Friday noon.

The workers were previously compensated under an hourly rate, but on March 23 the company implemented the piece rate scheme.

In a memorandum released by the Manpower Service Department of Sumifru Philippines Corporation to the North Skilled Workers Cooperative of Purok 12, Poblacion Compostela, Compostela Valley Province dated March 17, 2015, it announced: “Effective week 13 we will be implementing the 100% piece rate payment scheme as mandated by Management.”

The memorandum was signed by Deogracias F. Mocam, who heads the Manpower Services.

Vicente Barrios, union president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (United Workers of Suyapa Farm) in Packing Plant 90 told Davao Today that they would like to register their protest against the piece rate or “pakyawan” scheme as they saw it “diminutized” their take-home pay.

Barrios cited that his work for 10 days would be paid with “P6,000 based on an hourly rate.” However, if the piece rate scheme is applied he would only be paid with “around P2,700.”

“Among nakita dako kaayo og deperensiya. Halimbawa, kung makatrabaho ka, morate ka og tag-500, sa pakyawan mo-rate nalang ka og 260, 270, 280 (We saw the difference is really big. For example if you work [based on the hourly rate] you earn P500, while in “pakyawan” you only get P260, P270, P280),” Barrios said saying bananas have different categorization per box and have varying prices.

A data emailed by Kilusang Mayo Uno to Davao Today showed the list of pricing of banana in Sumifru. The bananas were categorized into 13 types according to its quality with prices ranging from $8.17 to $22.35 per box.

Meanwhile, in an emailed statement, workers’ alliance Banana Industry Growers and Workers Against Sumifru or Bigwas presented a table recorded by the union in Packing Plant 90 comparing the rate previously earned by workers under the hourly payment scheme to the piece rate scheme.

On March 23, when a worker go in the plant at 5:30 am and go out at 5:50 am with an over time of four hours, he will receive P341 based on the piece rate and P495.40 based on the hourly rate. The difference is P154.40.

In a one week duty of the farmer (March 23 to April 1), the total pay he receives based on piece rate scheme is P2,740. While if he is paid on the hourly basis he will get P4,380.20, with a total difference of P1,640.20.

Workers’ alliance

Workers from Packing Plants 90, 92, 95, 99, 340, 115, CPI, 241 and 244 launched localized protests to manifest opposition against the new scheme.

Joel Cuyos who currently works in Packing Plant 95 and spokesperson of Bigwas, said the piece rate system “is an attack on workers’ wages and the concrete expression of Sumifru’s greed.”

Cuyos said around 5,000 regular and contractual workers of Sumifru in Compostela are affected by the scheme.

“Our families are placed in peril because of the piece rate system,” Cuyos said.

“We are only earning a little and working more than 12 hours. Now under the piece rate system, we earn even less,” Cuyos said.

Barrios said they call for the revocation of the piece rate system and revert to the hourly scheme.

“Ang tanan nga trabahante, tanan plantation sa Sumifru sa Compostela dili mosugot nga ipiece rate tungod nakita namo ang diperensiya nga dako kaayo ang mawala sa among suholan (All workers in all plantations of Sumifru in Compostela do not agree to the piece rate scheme because we saw that there is a big difference that we lose in our salaries),” Barrios said.

Barrios added that until the company go back to the hourly rate system, they will continue with their protests.

“Ang among panawagan sa Sumifru karon, samtang dili pa mogubot ang sitwasyon ibalik ninyo ang among panawagan sa hourly system kay sa pagkatinuod ready na karon ang mga trabahante sa pagkasa sa katapusang hinagiban sa mga trabahante nga mao ang welga (We call on the Sumifru to go back to the hourly system because we are ready to go on strike),” Barrios said.

Cuyos added that they are also calling on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to “intervene on what is clearly a violation of the labor standards.” (davaotoday.com)

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