Dole Phil workers vote to go on strike

The vote was 3,248 yes, 134 no, four abstentions, eight spoiled and six missing ballots. The voting was supervised by two officials from the regional National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

The voters’ turnout was around 64% of the 5,315-strong members of the Asosasyon sa mga Mamumuo sa Dole Alang sa Kalinaw Demokratikong Nasud or Amado Kadena which is under the National Federation of Labor Unions- Kilusang Mayo Uno (NFLU-KMU).

Tony Pascual, NFLU-KMU secretary general, said the group will use the results as leverage to pressure Dole to heed the workers’ demand in negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The strike vote was expected but it was relatively low compared to previous voting where an estimated 90% of the union members came out to exercise their right.

“We really do not want a strike but we have no other option but to push it if the management maintains its hard line stance to the workers’ demand,” Pascual said.

The union was expected to inform the management Monday (August 28) about the outcome of the balloting in a conference at General Santos City earlier set by regional labor mediation officials.

The management had earlier filed a notice of lockout in response to the notice of strike filed by the workers.

Pascual said the strike will be held once they submit the results of the voting to the regional mediation board.  Under the law, workers can go on strike seven days after the voting result is submitted to the board.

But within the seven days, Pascual said there might still be negotiations that may prevent the workers from pushing on with their strike.

In a separate statement, Jose Teruel, president of Amado Kadena, said the results of the balloting will be submitted to the regional mediation board if the firm’s management would not improve its counter offer to the union’s demand in today’s meeting at General Santos City.

He said the union’s total bargaining agreement package for three years would cost the firm more or less P2 billion, about one percent of Dole’s annual net profit.

“[The figure] includes funding for our 15 economic demands,” Teruel said.

When the union began negotiations for a new bargaining agreement with the company in April, the former originally cited  72 economic provisions.

Dole has yet to issue a statement on the workers’ strike vote.

But last Saturday, thousands of residents and pineapple and papaya growers embarked on a peace caravan which called on union members to abandon plans to hold a strike. (MindaNews)