KMU slams death threat vs. Mindanao labor leader

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the contractor of a Japanese banana company for harassing and issuing a death threat against a union leader in southern Mindanao.

Vicente Barrios, president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (Namasufa-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU), was fired upon and held at gunpoint by Jesus Jamero, contractor of Japanese banana company Sumifru.

Barrios was leading about 100 of Sumifru’s workers in a picket-protest in front of Jamero’s residence in Compostela Valley when the contractor came out carrying a gun.

“We condemn Jamero for issuing a death threat against KMU leader Vicente Barrios. We condemn the Aquino government for emboldening and tolerating capitalists and their minions who make dire threats against workers,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.

The incident was immediately reported to the local police but the latter, instead of arresting Jamero, questioned the workers for holding a protest.

KMU said workers cannot help but treat such death threats seriously as leaders of progressive organizations in the region have been targets of extra-judicial killings. Barrios himself is a survivor of an ambush in 2006.

“The workers of Sumifru have every right to protest, especially after the company failed to comply with its compromise agreement with the union. The police officials who refused to act on the crime committed by Jamero should also be held accountable,” Labog said.

He added that the police officials’ response to the workers’ complaint reflects the Aquino government’s disrespect for workers’ rights.

Workers of the banana plantation conducted the picket-protest after Sumifru failed to pay them the first payment of five days’ basic salary last January 25 as stated in the company’s compromise agreement with the workers’ union.

The agreement was a result of the victorious strike held by Sumifru workers in December last year.

“Trade-union repression and grave violations against workers’ rights remain rampant and become even more more blatant under the pro-capitalist Aquino government. We demand justice for Barrios and all workers of Sumifru,” Labog said.