Labor Rights Group Releases “Bananas and Bullets: A Special Report on the Struggle of Banana Workers in Sumifru in Compostela”

November 24, 2018

On October 1, 2018, workers of Sumifru Philippines Corporation, a Japanese-owned multinational company, launched a strike over the company’s various labor rights violations. As the workers resisted and protested against the exploitative measure of the company, they were answered with more attacks on their rights.

Just a few weeks ago, on October 31, one of the members of the union on strike, the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyafa Farms (NAMASUFA), was killed. Danny Boy Bautista, 31 years old, has been working as a harvester for five years in Sumifru’s Packing Plant 340. He was gunned down by two unidentified assailants at around 6:00pm in Compostela public market in Brgy. Poblacion, Compostela Valley.

Few days after the killing of Bautista, another member of the workers’ union, identified as Jerry Alicante, 45 years old, was shot two times by unidentified hitman last November 11 around 8:20 pm at Barangay Osmeña, Compostela, Compostela Valley. Alicante survived the slay attempt but he sustained a gunshot wound in his right hand.

In light of these continuous attacks on Sumifru workers, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) releases “BANANAS AND BULLETS: A Special Report on the Struggle of Banana Workers in Sumifru (Compostela) to aid in the campaign against this giant and powerful multi-national company. It will be submitted to various institutions and networks here and abroad to further expose the unfair labor practices of the company.

Sumifru, despite its SA 8000 and Global GAP certifications, has been a notorious violator of labor rights. It has long been engaged in the illegal scheme of labor-only contracting in its various plantations in Mindanao. It provides a dismal wage of P365/day, as they continue to gain millions from the sweat and blood of the workers. It even implements a piece-rate payment scheme, which cuts the workers wages to nearly half of the prescribed minimum wage. Sumifru is also known for exposing their workers to harmful and hazardous working conditions. Workers and the nearby communities are exposed to hazardous chemicals from the pesticides that the company uses.

Sumifru has been engaged in labor busting schemes for over a decade, as it continues to refuse to recognize the workers’ union and afford them of their right to Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It also has a long record of conniving with state forces and hiring goons to harass and threaten workers who are fighting for their rights. They have been also tagging union leaders and members as rebels, making them targets of the government’s counter-insurgency measures.

In the midst of all these, the workers continue stand firm and united. They have learned from these harsh experiences that their strength is in their unity.

CTUHR raises alarm on the worsening attacks on trade unionists, especially agricultural workers. It calls for the immediate and impartial investigation of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) on the recent incidents of extra-judicial killings of NAMASUFA members, several slay attempts and hold the perpetrators to justice; hold the state security forces and SUMIFRU and other respective agencies working for SUMIFRU to stop the attacks on trade unionists and hold them accountable to the continuing harassments and threats against NAMASUFA members, workers and their families.

CTUHR also calls on the international community and consumers in the client countries of Sumifru to support the workers’ struggle, to use their leverage and power to pressure SUMIFRU to stop the attacks and comply with the international human and labor rights standards. “Your favorite bananas are tainted with workers blood,” CTUHR ended. ###


The full report can be accessed here: Bananas and Bullets: A Special Report on the Struggle of Banana Workers in Sumifru (Compostela)