Today, hundreds of striking Citra Mina workers trooped to the venue of the 16th Tuna Congress to dramatize their plight and to reiterate the pressing need for the erring company to address its continuing human rights violation.
Bearing “Justice for Citra Mina” banner and chanting, “because of Citra Mina, our families are hungry,” the workers conducted a die-in right outside the hall where the congress is being held.
“We find it ironic for Joaquin T. Lu to chair this year’s Tuna Congress whose theme is ‘Shared Resources, Shared Responsibility’ when his company is not even acting responsibly towards us – its workers,” Jumary Arevalo, president of the Samang United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies Union (UWCMGCU), said.
Joaquin T. Lu is the Chairman Emeritus of Citra Mina Group of Companies whose human rights record is now under scrutiny at the global level.
“Let’s make one thing clear, the issue in Citra Mina is the grave human rights violation it caused when it sacked me and 237 of my fellow workers in 2013 when we formed our union,” Arevalo said.
“The company’s offer to reinstate 12 of us is nothing but a cheap PR campaign. The only acceptable solution is for the company to recognize our union and to reinstate with full back wages all of us who are still interested to work,” Arevalo added
The right to self-organization is protected under the Philippine Constitution, ILO Core Convention and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Citra Mina Group of Companies has been very artful in shifting its operations from one company to another in order to avoid formation of workers’ unions, which only proves that the company’s anti-union attitude is systematic.
“Worse, Citra Mina Group of Companies now resorts to blaming the international labor community for all its woes,” Arevalo said. “Truth is, Citra Mina is now hitting the IUF and the ITF in an attempt discredit them as they are the ones helping us expose the human rights violations of the company,” he added.
The International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are global union federations with millions members around the world.
UWCMGCU has consistently warned that Citra Mina’s human rights violations could potentially damage not just the reputation of the company but of the entire tuna industry of the country. “Citra Mina’s uncooperative attitude is starting to be a liability of the entire industry,” Arevalo said.