DOLE issues cease and desist order vs 'sacada' recruiter
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) removed a service cooperative linked to labor trafficking from its list of authorized contractors and subcontractors.
Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative in Polomolok, South Cotabato, was issued a cease and desist order for violating labor standards and working conditions. The cooperative was accused of trafficking seasonal sugar workers (or sacadas) from Mindanao to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
Some 864 migrant sugar workers – many unable to read and write – were recruited by the cooperative from Sultan Kudarat, Davao City, and South Cotabato to work in Tarlac.
They were reportedly lured with a promise of P450/day wage plus benefits such as free meals and accommodation and a cash advance of P7,000.
But farmers' consultation with Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano revealed that many of the workers were paid only P5.47 to P9.50 per day. They were also not provided food and decent places to stay.
"They were housed in cramped barracks and were not provided with food and water. They worked for long hours cutting and hauling sugarcane. It took them 3 days to finish cutting and hauling a truckload of sugarcane," Mariano said.
According to an earlier investigation by the DOLE, the P7,000 promised cash advance was cut down to P5,000 and given in two tranches. Half was given prior to departure and the other half upon arrival in Tarlac. Greenhand's recruiters admitted they charged P500 for "additional costs of transportation."
"The said establishment is now prohibited to enter into new contracting arrangements or engaging in the practice of illegitimate contracting/subcontracting arrangement,” said Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod in a statement released Tuesday, March 21.
A report from the DOLE Regional Office 12 (South-Central Mindanao) said Greenhand violated labor standards for its:
- failure to secure an authority to transport workers from the DOLE Regional Director, stated in the Department Order No. 159, Series of 2016, or the Guidelines for the Employment of Migratory Sugarcane Workers
- deduction of P500 from migrant sugar workers to cover transportation expenses, illegal based on Article 113 of the Labor Code of the Philippines or the rules on allowable wage deductions
- underpayment of wages and non-payment of benefits
- employing 4 minors, violating Republic Act 9231 or the Anti-Child Labor Law
- failure to enroll workers and pay remittances to the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG
Out of the 864 recruited workers, only 27 remain in Hacienda Luisita.
Some 586 of these workers escaped from the farm and sought the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to return to their provinces. – Rappler.com