WORKERS from the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer staged a picket to pressure the company to abide by a Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) directive in recognizing the legitimacy of a workers' union.

Around 500 workers protested at the gate of Dole Philippines (Dolefil) in Polomolok, South Cotabato led by progressive labor union Asosasyon sa mga Mamumuo sa Dole Alang sa Kalinaw ug Demokratikong Nasud (Amado-Kadena), member of the National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Naflu-KMU).

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As a corresponding action, workers from other unions of Naflu-KMU also picketed outside the Dolefil corporate head office in Makati City today in support of their colleagues in Mindanao.

In a statement, Amado-Kadena president Jose Teruel said the Dolefil management has assaulted Amado Kadena by forming a company-backed union, UR-Dole, and further made measures to declare Anado-Kadena's officials as illegitimate.

After deliberation, the Department of Labor's BLR released a decision nullifying the impeachment of the union officials from Amado Kadena.

However, a month since the decision was released, the management have remained "to play deaf ears on the directive."

Teruel said Dolefil employs about 5,000 workers in its 24,000-hectare plantation in South Cotabato.

"Through a few isolated workers, who were given special benefits in exchange for cooperating with management, the company moved to bust Amado Kadena. The Amado Kadena union leaders were impeached by an illegal general assembly, which was organized with the help of the Dolefil management, and were replaced with people from UR-Dole," Teruel said.

Teruel said several union members have also been unjustly dismissed since 2005. Military groups have also cooperated with the management in harassing union officials and members.

"Because of these clear violations of workers’ rights and their persistent collective action, the Department of Labor’s BLR released a decision nullifying the impeachment of the union officials from Amado Kadena, voiding the legality of the general assembly called for and presided over by UR-Dole, and thwarting the move of UR-Dole to disaffiliate the union from Naflu-KMU," Teruel said.

"Dolefil owners act like bullies in defying government orders that are in favor of the union officials, and in steadily pushing through with their union-busting schemes. That is how callous and cruel big capitalists can be, always acting according to their interests," Teruel said.

"We call on the Dole and other responsible government agencies to act on the non-compliance of the pineapple firm giant, especially now that we are supposedly under the ‘administration of change’ led by Noynoy Aquino," said National Federation of Labor Unions secretary general Tony Pascual.

"Whenever government orders favor business owners, the government even summons the military and police in order to enforce the directive. But if the decision favors the workers, the government just shrugs it off if its directive is disobeyed. We hope this will not happen in our case," Pascual said.

"But what we are most certain of is the power of the collective action of workers. If the Dolefil management insists on taking the law into its hands, and if Aquino’s government will not show teeth to enforce its rulings, then we will fight for what is due to us through our collective might," Pascual added.