Fired workers press fight vs Dole, slam military

Oct. 23, 2007

PANABO CITY — Following their failure to get the support of this city’s City Council, around 120 retrenched workers of the Davao Integrated Transport Facilities, Inc. (DITFI) and their families decided to barricade the entrance of the companys container yard around 11:30 yesterday morning.

The workers and their families held a silent picket in front of the Panabo City Council to solicit support. They were retrenched after DITFI-Dole Stanfilco arbitrarily announced closure on Oct. 8. But no help came from any of the councilors, prompting the workers to go back to the picket line at the entrance of the container yard.

Around 30 members of the military were quick to arrive at the scene as workers refused to allow any more hauling trucks and refrigerated vans to enter and leave the container yard. Suspicious men in plain clothes were also seen some meters away from the picket line.

The number of workers and sympathizers reached a peak of about 300 people between 6:00 and 10:00 pm. The workers stayed and slept at the entrance of the container yard. We are livid to see our trucks being driven by outside haulers, as the company continues with its operation while we are outside asking to be let back to work. DITFI and Dole Stanfilco have no remorse depriving us of our only means of living, said Noel Morales, president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa DITFI, the union of rank and file workers.

They [DITFI and Dole Stanfilco] are the ones who put the barricades first. They are the ones who would not allow us to work even when the operations of the company continued. We cannot stand and watch while this transnational company rob us of our dignity and step on our rights, he said.

We are in a peaceful demonstration. The military is not deputized to be anywhere near us. Their continued presence will only spark violence if they try to use force to break our unity in the picket line. We still call on the local government unit to help us in our demands since it is their sworn mandate, Morales added.

We call on people to visit us in the picket lines. We are the victims here; our struggle is just and reasonable and we want nothing but to be given our jobs back. Our families and sympathizers have vowed to remain with us and we are resolved to fight this through, Morales ended.

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