‘The last time we got paid was before typhoon Pablo’

Karlos Manlupig
Anding said the worsening state of labor conditions show why unions have to continue to exist to uphold the rights and interests of the workers and their families

Thousands of workers and militants join the Labor Day march protest in Davao City. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Among the thousands of workers and militants on Wednesday’s Labor Day march in Davao City was Cerila Anding, a banana plantation worker in Compostela Valley.

For Anding, life has always been so hard but it’s worse after Typhoon Pablo devastated towns and destroyed hectares of banana plantations. 

“No work, no pay. That is the policy of our company. Since our plantation and packing plant was swept away, we are now unemployed and the last time we received wage was before Pablo,” Anding told Rappler. Anding is the leader of local union Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Osmeña (NAMAOS).

“It is very saddening that the government has done nothing to help us. We also received no help from the company. That is why we are protesting so that the government would wake up,” Anding added.

Waiting for their plantations to resume operations, Anding said workers are forced spend their savings to survive. Others have to moonlight as diggers and laborers in gold mines.

“If there are relief goods then we will have something good to eat. But right now there are no more relief services in our area,” Anding said.

Anding said they were informed that rehabilitation efforts on the plantations would be initiated this year. “Hopefully the plantations would be able to operate again. The government must do something so that we will not die of hunger,” Anding commented.

Anding said parents are worried that they will no longer be able to send their children back to school in June. 

In spite of their situation, Anding said she can imagine how many other workers are suffering as they are. “If poor labor conditions exist in an area which has caught international attention due to the disaster caused by Pablo, I can not imagine what is happening in areas which are hidden from the view of the public,” she said.

Labor unions are dying nationwide. Anding said the worsening state of labor conditions show why unions have to continue to exist to uphold the rights and interests of the workers and their families.

“We are currently surviving because we are living as a community. This is what we have learned in our union. We help each other without any preconditions,” Anding said.

She also shared that their salary increased from P71.50 in 1998 to P312 last year because of the efforts of their union.

“This did not happen because the company voluntarily offered this increase to us. We fought for it both in the negotiations under the collective bargaining agreement and in the picket line,” Anding said.

“No company would easily approve wage increases for their employees. Their goal is to maximize profit even if this would mean compromising their workers,” she added.

She said banana plantations workers are joining the call for a nationwide P125 wage increase.

Anding said the banana plantation workers in Compostela Valley are hoping that the administration would be able to realize their need for immediate intervention.

“But helping workers must not be done for “pogi points” only. This must be done with sincerity. This must be done across the country,” Anding said. –

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