MEMBERS of the Alliance of Progressive Labor picketed today the main office of the Dole Philippines-Stanfilco Division in Ayala Ave., Makati City to condemn the illegal termination of over 400 workers in its banana plantation in Guinoyuran, Valencia City, in Bukidnon province.
It was in fact part of simultaneous mass actions as APL activists and allies in Mindanao swarmed the regional offices of Stanfilco and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bukidnon, Davao, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro.
“The ease and swiftness in the closure of the Guinoyuran farm is a brazen act of illegal lockout and union-busting, and smells of a possible collusion between Stanfilco and some local DOLE officials, as the notice of termination was suddenly served on June 17 without prior notification and credible reason, and which shows again the arrogance and insensitivity of multinational corporations (MNCs) like the Dole,” the APL said.
Most of the terminated workers are regular rank and file as well as officers and members of the Guinoyuran Labor Union (GLU) raising suspicion that the shutting down of the farm is only temporary to pave the way to using contractual laborers who have lower wages and benefits and banned from joining unions, APL added.
Karl Yngojo, APL secretary general for Northern Mindanao, expressed surprise why only the 140-hectare Guinoyuran farm was closed among a number of Stanfilco plantations in Bukidnon covering a total of 14,000 hectares.
Cesarlito Dayata, GLU president, refuted Stanfilco’s claim of poor harvests due to alleged extensive moko and sigatoka banana diseases by revealing that Guinoyuran farm remains highly profitable with about P5 million worth of average produce a day vis-à-vis a mere P300,000 daily operational expenses.
This was seconded by other observers that the vast agricultural know-how of Dole-Stanfilco, including its highly efficient crop production and integrated pest management system, would make its “disease-ridden bananas” contention a lame and very doubtful excuse.
Dayata also deplored the unusual deployment of military personnel in the farm following its shutdown, which causes intimidation and fear among the displaced workers.
To appease the workers, Stanfilco is offering a one-month separation pay per year of service and the release of 13th month pay, which they rejected and instead called for their immediate reinstatement.
The Akbayan partylist and the DOLE central office are now conducting separate investigations on the Stanfilco case.
Dole Philippines Inc. or its Standard (Philippines) Fruit Corp. or Stanfilco Division grows high-grade Cavendish bananas in several plantations comprising tens of thousands of hectares in General Santos, Davao and Bukidnon. The bananas are mainly exported to Japan, Korea and the Middle East.
Dole-Stanfilco is a subsidiary of the US-based Dole Food Co., the world’s largest producer of fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, fresh and packaged pineapples, grapes, strawberries, salads, other fresh and frozen fruits and juices. It is reportedly operating with almost 76,000 full-time and seasonal workforce in 90 countries. Its revenue in 2010 was placed at $6.8 billion.
The immense economic and sociopolitical power of MNCs or TNCs (transnational corporations) – first personified by the notorious United Fruit Co. – especially during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s to ’80s had given birth to their client states called “banana republics,” which pertain to poor nations ruled by corrupt and oppressive governments, particularly the then military dictatorships in Latin America and the Marcos regime in the Philippines.