Tripartite body for banana industry to look into labor issues

Ponciano Ligutom, DOLE regional director, said the tripartite council solely for the banana industry, the first industry-based council in the region, is necessary because of the big stake of the industry to the region's economy.

He told MindaNews the body will not duplicate the Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (RTIPC) because the latter covers a broader area.

The banana industry, he said, has unique issues of its own. He cited the magnitude of coverage of the banana industry in terms of employees and the labor issues that need to be discussed between the labor, the management, and the government sectors.

He cited a positive response on the proposed industry-based tripartite peace council from the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) and the lawyer representative of a laborer's group.

Ligutom said the council is important to improve relations among the three sectors in an important sector of the economy.

He said they are looking at maintaining the banana industry's competitiveness in the world market.  

The DOLE launched with RTIPC a revised module for education of employers and companies on labor relations, human relations, and productivity.

Both the representatives of the labor and management sectors in the RTIPC welcomed the module and said it was useful in keeping industrial peace in the region.

Jorge Alegarbes, RTIPC vice chair for labor, however, said it might be of help to the organized laborers in the region, but not with those who are not part of labor unions and associations.

Only 68,000 of Southeastern Mindanao's 1.6 million workers, or 4.25 percent, are members of labor unions and only a fourth of the region's 618 unions have a collective bargaining agreement, the Department of Labor and Employment announced in December 2006.