After almost a year of painstaking struggle, the 293 unjustly dismissed workers of Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FPPI) can finally go back today albeit still in casual status.

FPPI Workers Union (FPIWU-NAFLU-KMU) President Elmer Jamero reported that the decision to bring the 293 casual workers back to work was made by the FPPI management last Friday, August 30, following a meeting between management and union officials.

Also, some 140 regular workers who were forced out of work since August 16 after a temporary shutdown of two divisions of the said plantation have resumed working on September 2.

The 293 workers, all members of casinoin the bargaining unit and have worked for at least a year in FPPI, were dismissed in October 2012 right after the Department of Labor and Employment conducted an ocular inspection on the reported massive violations of labor standards of the oil palm company (See related story). This prompted the union to launch a strike which lasted 62 days from November 2012 to January 2013. The strike ended after DOLE Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz on January assumed jurisdiction over the strike and ordered the striking workers to go back to work.

Jamero however noted that despite this initial and partial victory, the fight continues as the management insisted that talks on the union’s bid to regularize the 293 workers be off the negotiating table for the moment.

Moreover, Jamero said that although all the 293 workers can technically work again in the plantation, some of them have may not be coming back since they have looked for other jobs already.

Meanwhile, Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director, welcomed positively this development saying that the reinstatement of the 293 workers is a “result of the workers’ persistent and organized struggle”.

“This demonstrates the value of solidarity among workers, whether they may be regular or casual, as well as the crucial role of the union in asserting and fighting for workers rights and interests,” Arago added.

Arago also expressed gratitude to the international community by sending letters of appeal to the FPPI management and government authorities in support of the case of the 293 FPPI workers among other labor issues in the said plantation.

CTUHR received nearly 3000 mails from individuals and groups mostly from France in support of the FPPI workers’ campaign.

Arago said that the campaign will continue until the workers are promoted to regular status and are able to enjoy minimum labor standards and benefit from the union’s gains in the collective bargaining agreements.###