The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) calls on Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III to regularize all agricultural workers in and outside DOLE’s list of those engaged in labor-only contracting and implement a P750 national daily minimum wage for all workers.
UMA also supports the call of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives to abolish the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) and its 17 Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs), which has been mandated to fix and regulate the minimum wage in the provinces.
Among those in DOLE’s top 20 list engaged in labor-only contracting are transnational companies, Dole Philippines Inc. (Dolefil), Dole Stanfilco, and Sumifru Philippines, Corp.
Even the local government of Polomolok, South Cotabato where the cannery of Dole Philippines is located in its Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan from 2017-2022 stated that the company engaged in massive lay-off and contractual hiring from 1995-2000.
The LGU also observed that multi-national companies exploited human resource because of sub-contracting scheme of employment like the manpower agencies and cooperatives tolerated by the government. It also stated that this will lead to poverty if it is unresolved.
Sumifru, on the other hand, besides engaging in labor only contracting, historically has had several labor violations. These include unfair labor practice; illegal dismissal, suspension and harassment of union officers/members; and violation/non-implementation of Collective Bargaining Agreement, among others.
The list compiled by the Labor Department does not include growers under Dolefil and Sumifru who cannot pay their workers even the minimum wage because both transnational corporations buy their produce at very low prices.
Sumifru buys Class A bananas from its growers in Compostela Valley for only $4.25/box. The company though sells its so-called “Banappuru” from the Philippines at 3 packs of 350 grams each or 1.05 kg for JPY 1,360 yen or PHP 659.62. With one box of bananas containing an average of 13.5 kg of bananas, this is equivalent to PHP 8,480.83 or USD 160.97 per box.
Dolefil, on the other hand buys pineapples from its growers at P3.50 per kilo for regular size and P1.50 for smaller ones. Meanwhile, independent growers can sell them to the local market at up to P20 per kilo.
Fresh pineapples are sold in the US at 63 cents (P33.19) per pound or US$1.386 (73.01) per kilo.
These corporations and all other agribusiness companies could very well regularize their workers and pay them at P750 per day without even significantly reducing their multi-billion profits.