Dole's plant closure at Splendor-Corzo: A response to economic hardship or part of an anti-union campaign?

The preferential trade deal that Ecuador has had with the US until
now may have increased employment in the local flower industry, but
those jobs are characterized by minimum-wage salaries, forced overtime,
sexual harassment and abuse, pesticide poisoning, and illegal pregnancy
testing.  The proposed new Colombia-US and Ecuador-US free trade
agreements do not include any real protections for workers’ fundamental
labor rights, and would only serve to further entrench such precarious
and inhumane conditions.  Nevertheless, on Nov 10, President Bush spoke
with President Uribe of Colombia and reassured him that he fully
supports the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, which will be signed
on November 22nd.

Independently of what happens with the free trade agreements, Dole's
irresponsible conduct in Colombia and Ecuador is cause for serious
concern. 850 workers were fired at Dole's two plantations in Ecuador -
less than a month after the announcement, these farms were closed and
the workers sent home.

In Colombia, Dole's investment in flowers is much more significant.
Dole controls 20% of the flower export from that country. Despite tough
odds, Colombian workers have also been more successful at organizing
Dole plantations. Workers at Splendor Flowers formed an independent
union, Sintrasplendor, in November 2004, with the support of
Untraflores, an independent sector-wide flower workers union. After the
inception of the union, workers reported that Dole conducted a vigorous
anti-union campaign that included bringing in a company-backed union,
firing union leaders, challenging the union's legal registration with
the Colombian government, and refusing to reinstate fired union leaders
despite court orders to do so.

It doesn't seem to be a coincidence that one of the two plantations
that Dole chose to close is Splendor-Corzo. Corzo is the larger of the
two farms at Splendor Flowers, and the one where the Sintrasplendor
union is stronger. Dole justifies the closure of Splendor-Corzo by
saying that it has “historically produced products with
limited/seasonal demand and have high costs”. However, in 2001 Splendor
Flowers was #2 on a list of the most successful flower companies in
Colombia, with 19 million dollars in sales.  Dole has not provided
evidence that Splendor is a losing enterprise. It appears that the
plantation closure is a response to the growing support for
Splendor management has already started to call
workers and offer them compensation to get them to resign. They get a
15% bonus if they resign early. 300 workers have accepted the offer,
but the union is encouraging workers not to accept defeat so easily. In
the meantime, Dole has asked the Colombian Ministry of Social
Protection for permission to fire the remaining workers.




re: Dole's plant closure at Splendor-Corzo: A response to econom

The labor theories of value (LTV) are economic theories of value which argue that the value of a commodity is related to the labor needed to produce or obtain that commodity. The concept is most often associated with Marxian economics. Marginal utility supplanted labor theories of value in mainstream economics