GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 Feb) — A militant group here on Monday urged the inclusion of the labor row and land use issues at the fruit giant Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil), in the first formal peace negotiations on February 15 to 21 between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) under the Aquino administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo, Norway.
“ It is very timely that GPH and NDFP resume the peace talks, which will tackle social and economic reforms as its next agenda. Issues like contractualization, disrespect to workers’ rights to self-organization, wage freeze, among others, can be brought to the negotiating table for both parties to take into consideration,” said Ryan Lariba, spokesperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen.
Bayan-Socsksargen’s call came as workers at Dolefil gear for the certification election next week to choose the labor union that will be their bargaining agent with the management for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next five years.
Lariba said that they are hoping that the forthcoming elections at the giant pineapple company based in Polomolok, South Cotabato would be reflective of the true sentiments of the workers.
Two labor unions—the Amado Kadena-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Amado Kadena) and the Labor Employees Association of Dolefil-Polomolok Hourlies (Lead-Polomolok Hourlies)—have been jostling for recognition as labor union representative.
On January 31, the two labor unions, Dolefil and several government agencies forged an “industrial peace accord” in relation to the electoral process.
Lariba said “the Dolefil management and its allies, who disguise themselves as workers’ organizations, and the military, allegedly tried to discredit Amado Kadena.”
He said that among the unions in Dolefil, “it is only Amado Kadena-Naflu-KMU which promotes genuine trade unionism, that is, standing as the true representatives of workers.”
“The workers need a genuine union, not a company union because there are lots of issues in Dolefil that need to be resolved like contractualization through labor-only contracting. Based on experience, only Amado Kadena-Naflu-KMU is very consistent in its fight against this,” Lariba said.
He stressed that the issues affecting workers in Dolefil or in other industries can be tackled in the peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP in Oslo.
As for the land-use, “the control by Dolefil of over 30,000 hectares of land for their pineapple and banana plantations, at the expense of farmers and small landowners, may also be brought to the negotiating table, “ Lariba said.
“This scheme must be stopped, it’s modern-day land grabbing,” Lariba said.
Lariba said that Bayan-Socsksargen will be part of a Mindanao-wide movement which will draft the “people’s agenda” on February 17-18 to be presented both to GPH and NDFP peace panels.
MindaNews sought the Dolefil management for comment through its media liaison but as of 6 p.m. management has not responded. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)