Bukidnon SP intervenes in banana firm’s closure, retrenchment

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/9 Feb) – The management of banana firm Agrinanas Development Co., Inc. (ADCI) has started retrenchment of at least 800 workers.

Rossana Calingin, one of the managers of the firm, told members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Wednesday that the affected laborers will be paid half-a-month’s salary for every year of service.

Board member Jay Albarece, SP committee on labor and manpower services chair, said Calingin indicated to the provincial board that they are likely to retain 850 employees and around 300 laborers through “growership” agreement.

Calingin said that the company has filed a notice of closure at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) due to financial difficulties caused by plant disease attack in its banana plantations.

Albarece cited that a negotiation between management and labor union on the retrenchment is still ongoing.

Albarece, a top official of the Associated Labor Unions – TUCP before winning a seat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said the ALU-TUCP is strongly opposing the retrenchment.

The Bukidnon SP passed a resolution Wednesday requesting the ACDI top management to stop the retrenchment. Consequently, the notice of closure also meant cancellation of lease contracts with landowners in three Bukidnon towns, namely, Baungon, Libona and Talakag.

Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. invited the firm’s management, landowners, employees, and laborers to a still unscheduled meeting in a venue still not announced.

Albarece told MindaNews, however, that there is a need for a DOLE clearance for a firm’s notice of closure to proceed to retrenchment.

He added that ALU found out there was no clearance.

Calingin admitted she did not know of any clearance so far.

The provincial board unanimously decided to exercise Pater Familias or the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code.

In its resolution requesting for a cease of retrenchment, the SP said they are invoking the responsibility of the government authorities over the citizens to protect their rights and promote their general welfare. They said they want the parties to reach a “win-win” solution or a “remedy.”

Based on an advertisement posted in the Internet for job hiring in 2008, the company “is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce Company (a US Multinational Company), and is currently developing a 4,000-hectare banana plantation in the municipalities of Talakag, Baungon and Libona in Bukidnon.” (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)