Youth party lauds Compostela workers’ successful strike

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kabataan Party-list salutes and congratulates the workers of banana plantations in Compostela valley in the success of their 13-hour general strike, participated by different unions and more than a thousand workers against the “pakyawan” scheme implemented by Japanese-based banana exporter Sumifru.

“This historic victory of our workers is no small feat,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

According to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Maparat-Montevista Workers’ Union (MaMWU) in Compostela town commenced the strike at 10:00 in the morning of April 18, and was joined by 8 other unions from 7 banana packing plants and field operations. The strikes, which lasted for 13 hours, effectively paralyzed the operations of Sumifru.

The workers, affiliated with the National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), eventually reached an agreement to revoke the pakyaw system after an exhaustive dialogue.

The pakyaw or piece-rate system reduces workers’ wages by at least half compared to what they earn based on the hourly rate. At the same time, they have to work longer hours to pack more boxes of export bananas, compared to the hourly rate.

Workers laboring more than 12 hours or with an overtime of over 4 hours – only receive a measly P341 (P28.42/hour) based on the piece-rate system, while the hourly rate could earn as much as P495.40 (P41.28/hour).

“But the battle is far from over. Even the hourly-rate wage may not be enough to augment for the daily cost of living, which amounted to about P1,000 for a family of six,” Elago said.

The youth party supports the Kilusang Mayo Uno’s (KMU) call for a national minimum wage of P750/day and P16,000/month for public service employees.

“As youths to eventually join the labor force, we join the ranks of the workers in the call for a higher and decent national minimum wage, as well for the long-overdue demand to end contractualization and all forms of oppression to our farmers and workers,” Elago added.

“Let this be a challenge for us and for the people to strive for greater unity and greater victories. For as long as the workers of the nation remain exploited and oppressed, expect more strikes to paralyse factories and workplaces. Expect greater resistance from the youth, workers and the people as they fight for greater victories against the oppressive system,” Elago concluded.

The youth party and various sectors are gearing up to join the workers’ big mobilization on International Workers Day on May 1. ###