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Fruit company affiliated with Japanese Sumitomo Corp

Sumifru Philippines Corp under fire over labor dispute

This week, two representatives from a Philippines labor union protested what they claim are unfair labor practices and human rights abuses. These allegedly are taking place at a banana plantation run by a fruit company affiliated with Japan's Sumitomo Corp.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Paul John Dizon, president of the local labor union Namasufa, and Jamila Seno from the group's board of directors accused Sumifru Philippines Corp. of failing to "regularize" its workers, and of harassment following a strike held in October last year.

They called for Sumifru to comply with the Philippines' labor department order that the over 700 workers laid off following the strike be reinstated, and urged Japanese consumers to boycott the banana brand until it resolves the labor dispute.

The affiliate of the major Japanese trading company currently employs workers through fixed-term contracts with low wages and no benefits, regardless of how many years they have been with the company, Dizon said.

Despite a Philippines Supreme Court order in 2017, Sumifru has refused to recognize Namasufa as a collective bargaining agent, arguing that a contracting agency is their employer, he said.

On Tuesday, Sumitomo said it would sell its 49 percent stake in Sumifru Singapore Pte., the owner of the Philippine unit, to joint venture partner Thornton Venture Limited, who currently holds the majority stake.

As explained on english.kyodonews.net, the Japanese trading company has been producing bananas in the Philippines since 1970 and cited future growth strategies as the reason for the decision, denying any connection with the ongoing labor dispute in the Philippines.


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