DAVAO CITY, Philippines —- After only 13 hours of labor strike, 133 workers of a packing plant of the Japanese-owned Sumifru banana packing plant in Compostela Valley inked a deal with the management to scrap the piece-rate system and install an hourly payment scheme.

Elizar Diayon, president of Maparat-Monte Vista Worker’s Union (MAMWU) told Davao Today in a phone interview that the workers and management signed around 11pm on Tuesday night an agreement revoking the “piece rate system” also known as “pakyawan” system used by the company since 2015 that forces the workers to spend 12 hours of daily work.

Workers would now be paid hourly for eight hours under a standard minimum wage under the new deal.

Nine workers union in the Japanese-owned Sumifru’s packing plants waged a general strike on Tuesday to call for the revocation of the “piece rate system” which workers described as “exploitative.”

MAMWU’s strike was joined by workers of eight other unions and seven banana packing plants namely: Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm in Packing Plant 220, Packing Plant 92 Workers Union in Packing Plant 230, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Jose in Packing Plant 242, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Pilar-Mangayon in Packing Plant 370, San Miguel Workers Union in Packing Plant 260, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Osmeña-San Miguel in Packing Plant 250, Packing Plant 340 Workers Union in Packing Plant 340, and Sumifru Field Workers Union.

Diayon said under the piece rate system a worker in the packing plant works for 12 hours a day and receives only about P310 or P320, a little lower than the minimum wage set at P330 for agricultural workers in the region.

“Kung daghan imong maproduce, dako imong income pero kung gamay ra imong maproduce gamay ra pud imong income. Wala sya nagatubag sa gitakda nga minimum wage (If you produce more, your income is bigger, but if you produce little you are also paid less),” he said.

He also said the workers’ rate varies also depending on the type of Cavendish banana they handle.

Diayon said “special” costs are higher at P16 per box with approximately 16 kilos to 17 kilos, while the “regular” only costs P9 at an estimate of 13.5 kilos.

He said majority of their members work inside the plant handling the finished product and preparing Cavendish bananas for export.

He said there are approximately 405 workers inside the Packing Plant 115 which includes harvesters, workers inside the plant, and those in the farm areas.

The National Federation of Labor Unions, an affiliate of Kilusang Mayo Uno said all striking workers numbered to “more than a thousand.”(davaotoday.com)

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