Regularize workers, co-op told
Ma. Zenaida Campita, Dole regional director in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), ordered Soro-soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) to regularize its workers, mostly assigned at SIDC’s feed mill in Batangas City as well as in its 22 other business subsidiaries.
In July, the workers, most of them magsusunong (laborers), locked up the feed mill as they went on strike to demand regularization and their return to work after claiming that they were illegally dismissed.
The Dole conducted an 11-day assessment at the SIDC facilities and its service contractor, DCMM Manpower Services.
SIDC is a farmer’s cooperative that runs business activities such as contract-growing, loans, cable television and internet, and a gasoline station, since 1969. It has enlisted more than 8,000 members, mostly residents in Batangas and other provinces in Luzon.
The management of the cooperative is under Rep. Rico Geron of the party-list group Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (Agap).
In a 22-page decision on Aug. 18, Campita ordered SIDC to “submit proof of notice of regular employment” issued to 320 employees.
The Dole also ordered the company “to refrain from engaging in labor only contracting arrangement.”
Labor laws prohibit the practice of labor only contracting which happens when the contractor, in this case DCMM, “does not have substantial capital and the employees placed are performing function directly related to the main business of the principal.”
“In the case of SIDC Feedmills, some of the workers were already employed with the principal (referring to SIDC) since 1985 and were transferred to DCMM when the contractor began its operation in 2009. Therefore, the respondents are guilty of labor only contracting,” it said.
The Dole also found that DCMM’s registration with the agency had expired on Nov. 4, 2015.
“The certificate of registration of DCMM Manpower Services … will no longer be renewed for purposes of entering into a similar contracting arrangement with that of SIDC and its subsidiaries. DCMM is further directed to cease and desist from engaging in contracting and subcontracting activities since its authority has expired,” the Dole order said.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Geron said they have yet to implement Dole’s order, pending an appeal. “It’s not that we are refusing to regularize [the workers], but we are maximizing [our legal options],” Geron said.
He said DCMM’s registration was still valid when they entered into a five-year agreement with them.
“It’s up to the Dole to regulate [agencies’ licenses]. Why did they allow [DCMM to continue operating with an expired license] and now blame it on us?” he asked.
Marvin Ramos, president of Samahang Manggagawa sa SIDC-Liga ng Manggagawa para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (Sama-SIDC-Liga), said nothing has happened yet.
“The order seems to be only on paper,” he said.
Geron said the workers were previous employees of product suppliers. “They were never hired [by SIDC],” he said.
The Inquirer tried to seek comments from DCMM but its lawyer, Joselito Dimayacyac, declined requests for an interview.