FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2016
Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA media officer, 09166114181
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) supports the ongoing protest actions of banana plantation workers under the Musahamat Workers Labor Union (MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU) in Pantukan, Compostela Valley against union-busting and consecutive illegal dismissals perpetrated by the management of the Musahamat Farms Inc. since February 26, 2016.
UMA, which recently held its national congress in Mindanao, is one with the thousands of plantation workers in the island who wish to improve their working conditions, raise wages and claim their rightful benefits – rights that workers’ cannot possibly win without organizing themselves into militant unions.
“We laud the MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU for their fierce struggle against union-busting,” said Danilo Ramos, UMA Secretary General. The struggle of agricultural workers in Mindanao is also supported by Anakpawis Partylist, whose vice-president, Ariel Casilao is a leader of NAFLU-KMU in the region.
According to MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU, 52 workers have been dismissed, 19 have been placed under 30-day suspension and 19 union members, including 9 union leaders are to be given their walking papers. The lay-offs occurred merely days after the existing sole and exclusive bargaining agent (SEBA) of Farm 2 workers, Musahamat Workers Labor Union (Farm II) or MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU won the certification election (CE) last February 22.
“Their hard-won victories in establishing the union and clinching the certification election must not be for naught. We must support their just struggle for decent work, wages and the right to organize,” added Ramos.
Before these incidents, the union experienced a smear campaign instigated by the Philippine Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion to maliciously link their union to the New People’s Army (NPA). State-sponsored harassment and vilification of the workers and their union started on August 22, 2014 and continued up to early this year.
This prompted the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) to file a complaint on February 26, 2015 before the International Labor Organization (ILO) to report the harassment against MWLU officials, specifically for violations of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and on ILO Convention 98, on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.
At present there are 321 members of the union. Musahamat Farms Inc. was established in the Philippines in 2008 and is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Sabel International Group W.L.L.
“We firmly support the MWLU-II-NAFLU-KMU’s call to reinstate all dismissed workers and to stop union-busting and harassment of the workers,” ended Ramos.