Sumifru told to regularize 1,687 banana plantation workers

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 June) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered a multinational company operating a banana plantation in South Cotabato to regularize its 1,687 contractual workers.

Sisinio Cano, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said Friday their central office issued the order after junking last month the appeal made by fruit exporter Sumifru Philippines Corp. to the Office of Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

He said the regional office had issued a compliance order to the firm for the regularization of the contracted workers under its plantation base in Barangay Poblacion, Tboli, South Cotabato.

The move was based on their findings, which was made following a series of inspections and assessments, that the company was engaged in illegal labor-only contracting scheme, he said.

As part of the process, Cano said Sumifru immediately appealed the order to the Labor Secretary.

He said Secretary Bello eventually ordered “with finality,” denying the company’s appeal and sustaining the compliance order issued by the regional office.

“Soon we will be executing that order,” Cano said in a press conference.

Cano said they will specifically ask Sumifru to submit proofs regarding the regularization of the affected workers.

He said they will check the appointment documents of the workers, their payroll and remittances to the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the Pag-ibig Fund.

The official said these would determine whether the company has complied with the order or not.

Since July 2016, DOLE-12 already issued 23 compliance orders to companies that it found engaged in labor-only contracting.

The 22 other cases are still under appeal before the Office of the Labor Secretary.

In April, the agency submitted the names of the 23 companies to its central office in compliance with a directive from President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Six of them were eventually included in the list issued by DOLE central office last month of the top 20 companies in the country that allegedly practice illegal employment scheme.

Sumifru placed 12th in the list, which also included Dole Philippine Inc. based in Barangay Cannery, Polomolok town in South Cotabato; General Tuna Corporation in Barangay Tambler, this city; KCC Property Holdings in Barangay Lagao here; Dolefil Allah Valley Operations in Surallah, South Cotabato; and Dole-Stanfilco in Barangay Crossing Rubber, Tupi, South Cotabato.

Labor-only contracting is an arrangement “where the contractor or subcontractor merely recruits, supplies or places workers to perform a job, work or service for a principal.”

Such practice, along with end-of-contract or “endo” and “555” schemes, is prohibited under the Labor Code and DOLE Department Order No. 174. (MindaNews)