A petition to declare the general assembly as null and void was submitted by the Amado Kadena union to the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) last February 22. In response, the BLR issued a March 18 order providing for a “status quo ante,” but, according to the protesting unionists, Dole Philippines has so far refused to abide by it.
Despite the illegality of the special general assembly, Francis Gales and the rest of the “new officers” were immediately recognized by DolePhil management, which even gave the Gales group all the union dues dating back to January this year, said Pascual.
As of now, the AK officers are struggling to maintain their union office in South Cotabato, even as they are calling on the public to support their calls against the DolePhil Inc’s interference in their union.
At Stake, the Workers’ CBA, DolePhil’s Tax Holidays and Worldwide Market Access
The “illegal assembly” ousting the duly elected officers in DolePhil is just the latest in a series of DolePhil attempts to crush the progressive union in its biggest integrated plantation, cannery and packaging complex, Pascual told Bulatlat. He said these moves by the management are being bolstered by harassments and vilification directed against the union by the military.
NAFLU-KMU said the latest DolePhil move against progressive unionism was executed shortly before the company was due for a one-week audit by the Social Accountability International (SAI). All Dole-managed banana and pineapple plantations in the Philippines are proud recipients of SAI certification since 2000.
David H. Murdock, Chairman, owner and Chief Executive Officer of Dole Food Company, Inc., said “The certification recognizes the commitment of Dole’s talented, dedicated employees to the highest standards of human rights.” Its website claims, “This SAI certification is the most recent manifestation of Dole’s commitment to ensure that the Company’s operations, wherever located, protect both its work force and the environment.”
A SAI certification helps DolePhil to amass even more profits as they would earn more tax perks as well as wider market access with the certification, Pascual said.
But the said certification requires DolePhil to improve its employees’ working conditions and to respect the rights of workers and the population where it is operating.
(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The Amado Kadena has had a long string of engagements with DolePhil management concerning the implementation of their hard-won collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which, for instance, calls for limiting the number of lower-paid contractual workers to just 20 percent of the total workforce.
Right now, however, contractual workers comprise some 75 percent of the total 20,000 DolePhil workforce in Cotabato, said Pascual, prompting the union and its local and international supporters to call the attention of SAI. If properly investigated, DolePhil could lose its SAI certification.
Because of the ‘ouster’ of the AK union officers, the DolePhil management was able to maneuver that the workers be represented by Mr. Gales’ group who then accompanied the representatives of SAI during the one-week audit held from February 22 to 27. The management was also able to handpick the 100 DolePhil workers who were interviewed by SAI regarding their working conditions and respect for the rights of workers to freedom of association.
NAFLU-KMU said that even if DolePhil management had tried to push them out of the SAI auditors’ path, they hope that last week’s protests at DolePhil’s Makati headquarters and in South Cotabato would shed light on the workers’ true conditions. The unionists vowed to continue with the series of protests until DolePhil respects their CBA, the Bureau of Labor Relations’ status quo ante order, and the workers’ right to genuine representation and free association. (Bulatlat.com)