Martial law’s attacks on labor condemned by Mindanao workers

Mindanao workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno trooped the Department of Labor and Employment office in Manila to demand the lifting of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law and to condemn its atrocities against striking banana plantation workers in Compostela Valley.

Last June 2, twelve workers of the Korean-owned Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation and their supporters, including a minor and an elderly, were injured and arrested when combined elements of 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of Philippine Army and PNP Compostela Valley violently dispersed the 2-month strike against contractualization and union busting.

“We condemn the violent dispersal and arrests of striking Shin Sun workers in Mindanao. The despotic military officials in connivance with foreign and local capitalists have been using Duterte’s martial law as a license to curtail civil liberties and suppress workers’ legitimate and just demands,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general said.

The labor leader added that the attack against Shin Sun workers could serve as a prelude to further suppression of other workers’ strikes in Mindanao and sends a chilling effect on workers asserting their legitimate demands against contractualization and for a significant wage hike.

“This heinous attack against Shin Sun workers proves that Duterte’s martial law is not aimed at combatting terrorism but instead at sowing state-terror against the workers of Mindanao who have been strongly asserting their rights and dignity against capitalists’ greed and exploitation,” Adonis said.

KMU meanwhile called on President Duterte to lift his martial law in Mindanao and demanded that AFP and PNP officials together with the Shin Sun management be held accountable for their gross violations of labor and human rights.

“These atrocious attacks against workers and the people of Mindanao must stop. We call on President Duterte to lift his martial law and hold the AFP, PNP and Shin Sun management accountable for their gross violations of labor and human rights,” Adonis said.

Shin Sun workers launched their strike last April 6 after the company dismissed 80 workers including 53 union leaders and members. For 2 months, the striking workers have successfully paralyzed the plantation’s operation and assert their demand for reinstatement as regular workers.