“They are firing some 60 workers, including several union members. The company claims it has suffered enormous losses and needs to let workers go,” Didier Leitón, general secretary of the Union of Agricultural Plantation Workers (Sitrap), told La Rel.
According to the version given by the company, bananas are no longer packed at Bananera Córcega, rather they are supposedly sold directly in whole bunches to buyers at the entrance to the plantation.
Leitón says that this is something unheard of in agribusiness, which suggests that behind this move by Grupo Calinda there is a long-term and far-reaching strategy.
“The decision came out of nowhere. We were not consulted and the company adopted it just when we were very close to reaching the number of members stipulated by labor legislation for qualifying for collective bargaining.
“We believe it was meant as a blow to the union and, at the same time, as a way of opening the door to a risky outsourcing scheme in the banana agribusiness sector,” the union leader noted with concern.
If that is indeed the case, contractors will take over the packing sector and they will be the ones to select new personnel, hiring only non-unionized workers.
It will also set an extremely dangerous precedent, paving the way for the implementation of the same system by other work sites of Grupo Calinda and other multinational corporations in the fruit industry.
On June 9, Sitrap requested an urgent meeting with the company to discuss and seek a negotiated solution to this crisis.
“So far we have received no answer. It is a dishonest and antiunion ploy that will cause serious harm to workers.
“We asked Rel UITA (IUF Latin America) and other sister organizations for support so that the company will reconsider and sit down to dialogue with the union,” Leitón concluded.
Bananera Córcega is one of the five banana plantations owned by Grupo Calinda, a division of Corporación Álvarez & Marín, connected with the businessman and politician Antonio Álvarez Desanti.
It has Global Gap and Rainforest Alliance certification and exports to the United States and the European Union, with Chiquita Brands as one of its buyers.
Grupo Calinda has approximately 2,000 hectares under production and generates more than 1,350 direct jobs.