Regularize all Agricultural Workers and Implement a P750 Daily National Minimum Wage

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.750


Agricultural Workers Condemn Sereno Ouster, Call Support for Sr. Pat

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) joins the Filipino people in condemning the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice (CJ). This is another signal by the Duterte regime that no dissent would be tolerated against his regime even if that person, under the Constitution is supposedly his co-equal in government.

According to John Milton “Butch” Lozande, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), President Duterte always gets what he wants especially against critics of his policies, even if this is done by hook or by crook. Instead of being impeached, CJ Sereno was ousted by minions of the President in the Supreme Court (SC) through a quo warranto case.

Next on Duterte’s target is Sr. Patrcia (Pat) Fox, whose rights were already violated by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) by handing out a decision to downgrade her missionary visa to a tourist one even if she had the right to appeal this before the BI’s decision.

The BI even used a 2015 BI Order against Sr. Pat as legal basis for their action on her even if the Philippine Immigration law stipulates that foreigners have the same civil and political rights of locals. What is only prohibited under the law is if that foreigner calls for the ouster, assassination, etc. of the country’s leader.

Given this situation, the hope of the Filipino people against tyranny and even in Sr. Pat’s case is to strengthen the mass movement in supporting her and the growing dissent that the Duterte regime is itself creating.

This includes growing human rights violations especially against the Filipino peasantry especially in Mindanao where martial law is still in place. This also includes policies that aggravate their already dire situation like landlessness and the TRAIN law among others, which increased the financial burden of the Filipino people.

There is already a broad formation against tyranny in which UMA is a part of. This has expanded even before Sereno was ousted and the moves by the Duterte government against Sr. Pat.

A mobilization against the one year declaration of martial law will be held on May 23 and a big protest action will be also held on May 25 or the last day that the BI declared her right to stay in the country.

We call on the Filipino people to support these activities, to struggle for Sr. Pat’s right to stay and do her missionary work among the poor and the oppressed, and against the growing tyranny in the country.

Agricultural Workers Pay Tribute to Karl Marx’s 200th and Affirm Marx’s Legacy as an Integral Part of Their Struggle

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) confers the highest tribute to comrade Karl Marx, as the greatest icon and teacher of the working class worldwide for social transformation on the occasion of the 200th Year of his Birth Anniversary on May 5, 2018.

Marx was born on the 5th of May 1818 in Trier, Germany by Jewish parents. Lawyer by profession, he is a philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. He molded his ideas in mid 1800s where the industrial revolution is at its height in Europe and where its dire effects to the workers and the people of Europe enabled Marx to conceptualize his revolutionary theories which eventually served as the universal Bible of the working class to free themselves from the clutches of Capitalism and Imperialism worldwide.

Marx together with Frederick Engels initiated revolutionary theories that were eventually applied and developed by revolutionary teachers after him. Marxism achieved its first great triumph in the Russian Revolution in 1917 led by Lenin and Stalin, the first working class state. Great improvements were being followed by Mao when he applied Marxism-Leninism to defeat the US Imperialist-dictated government of Chang Kai-shek in 1949 in feudal China.

Marx’s universal appeal lies in his critical approach to solve the socio-economic problems of the working class in a capitalist society and the crisis weighed down on the peasants in a feudal and semi-feudal social order like the Philippines. He dedicated his whole life and family to create ideas expounding the history of social development; the nature of a state and the enslavery of the working class by the bourgeoisie ruling class; the means and methods of struggle by the exploited and oppressed people to establish a world free of exploitation of man by man.

With Marx’s revolutionary ideas, the peasants and workers were able to recognize their class identity, differentiate their class enemy and friends, consciously assert their role in history as a potent force for social transformation and discern methods on how to scientifically change the world into a truly democratic and just society where people live in genuine peace and complete harmony.

Without Marx’s revolutionary ideas, the workers and peasants worldwide will not enjoy the social welfare benefits they strongly fought like genuine land reform, 8-hour working shifts, better working conditions, social pension, maternity and death benefits, child and women welfare programs, the right to unionize and organize, among many others.

In the Philippine context, under the helm of the landlord-oligarchic rule of the Duterte regime, the semi-feudal economic order and semi-colonial political structure are still ruthlessly imposed by imperialist nations led by the United States of America. This makes Marx’s ground-breaking ideas most relevant and sought after in guiding all forms of struggle—workers, peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolks, church people and all other sectors who dream for a better world.

Under the Philippine economic and political situation where the US-Duterte faithfully upholds and advances the interests of Monopoly Capitalist nations and domestic Bureaucrat-Capitalist-Landlords, the toiling masses of workers and peasants confidently persevere in their continuing struggle for national industrialization and genuine land reform knowing that they have Karl Marx’s universal ideas as their most powerful weapon towards certain victory.

This victory could be summed-up in Marx’s inspiring thought for the working class, “The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of the world unite!”