Bukidnon banana firm workers vote ‘no’ to strike

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/18 April) – Amid the certainty of massive retrenchment workers of a banana firm operating in three towns of Bukidnon decided against holding a strike in a vote held April 7 and 8, provincial board member Jay Albarece said.

The Associated Labor Unions was hoping the members of the Agrinanas Development Company Inc. Employees Union would vote in favor of a strike to pressure the company into shelving the retrenchment plan, Albarece, an ALU lawyer, said.

He did not give the exact result but said the margin was about 200 votes [against a strike].

“With the negative result of the strike balloting, the workers made clear their intentions to air their protest through more amicable means rather than through a strike,” the official said.

Albarece, however, said that despite the result [of the vote] the ALU has not given up its campaign against the retrenchment.

He attributed the outcome to a campaign by local and company officials against the strike which created apprehensions it might result in a situation worse than retrenchment.

He said about 70 percent of the rank and file members of the union joined the vote.

Albarece admitted the vote has weakened their position against the retrenchment. By next month, he said, the company will proceed with the final phase of the cutback.

The American-owned firm has shelved plans to shut down its operations in the towns of Baungon, Libona and Talakag but company officials told the union that its top management based in Miami in the US has decided to reduce operations.

The company plans to retain only 850 of at least 3,000 hectares of the firm’s banana plantations and only 1,000 of its 2,200 regular employees. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)