By Lara Climaco i FilAm Star Correspondent
Putting its money where its mouth is, Dole Philippines agreed to regularize 4,765 workers in compliance with a Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) ruling that initially found more than 10,000 of its laborers in Mindanao hired under labor-only contracting arrangements that have been outlawed by the Duterte administration.
The ruling placed Dole Philippines as the number two “endo” violator in the country, next to Jollibee Foods Corp and followed by telco giant PLDT.
“I would like to congratulate the Dole Philippines, Dole Kaugnay and the union for their prudence in setting aside issues to finally come up with this MOA (memorandum of agreement) and to directly hire 4,173 workers in Polomolok cannery and 592 in Upper Valley operations in not later than one year from signing,” Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III was quoted in an agency press release issued August 31.
Headquartered in California, Dole Food Company is the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Philippines is its largest production hub for mainstay products such as canned pineapple and mixed fruits, beverages, packaged fruit snacks and tomato and spaghetti sauces. With farms and a cannery located in South Cotabato, Dole Philippines was acquired in 2013 by Japan’s Itochu Corporation as part of a larger acquisition involving Dole Food’s fresh produce business in Asia and the worldwide packaged foods business.
“Dole Philippines has an excellent record of corporate responsibility in working with the community and other non-government organizations. Although we are facing competition in the global market, we will be in full compliance with what is stated in the MOA and we will regularize workers as stated in the MOA,” Randy Fleming, Dole Philippines vice-president and managing director, was quoted in the DOLE press release.
The MOA was signed August 24 with Dolefil Kaugnay, the labor-management council (LMC) at Dole Philippines where its union, the Labor Employees Association of Dolefil or LEAD, is represented. Before the MOA signing, Dole Philippines had already regularized 1,962 workers in response to its compliance order, according to DOLE.
On its Facebook page, Dolefil Kaugnay hailed the MOA signing as a “labor relations milestone” initiated by LEAD. “This was done through the LMC that sets a new trend in labor relations and supports the government’s mandate on regularization,” it said upon announcing the MOA signing.
Last March, a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was likewise reached under auspices of the LMC which gave unionized workers a signing bonus of PHP7,000 and one sack of rice on top of improved CBA provisions, according to Dolefil Kaugnay.
In its press release, DOLE pointed out that Dolefil Kaugnay was the 2015 winner in the National Search for Most Outstanding Labor-Management Cooperation for Industrial Peace.
Dolefil Kaugnay said on its FB page that the March CBA was the first in the Philippines to have been concluded through an LMC mechanism.