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January 1998, Volume 4, Number 1

Philippines: Dole, Plantation

Dole, the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruits, won
permission in 1994 to continue to grow bananas on a 1,004-hectare banana
plantation it had leased from a local landowner since the 1960s despite land
reform in 1988. Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the
800 farm workers employed by Standard Philippine Fruit Company (Stanfilco),
Dole's subsidiary, received title to the land in early 1995, but they also
agreed to sell the bananas to Dole at prices that critics charge is too
low.


Under the 1994 agreement, the workers formed an association called the
Stanfilco Employees' Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (SEARBAI)
that agreed to sell their bananas only to Stanfilco. Under the agreement,
Dole/Stanfilco pays 22.50 pesos per 13-kilogram box of class A cavendish
bananas, even though some other plantations pay 60 pesos, which means that Dole
workers earn about 117 pesos a day, less than the 200 pesos a day they used to
receive as Dole employees. Dole workers say that they agreed in order to
receive separation pay of P100,000 to P400,000 each.


The Philippine banana industry earned $140 million from exports in 1996,
and Dole accounted for 42 percent, or $ 59 million.


There are about 30,000 Filipinos employed on plantations in the Philippines
for an average wage of about $4.60 per day, and 6,800 Filipino plantation
workers are among the 13,000 farm workers world wide who will share in a $42
million settlement with three chemical companies that made DBCP, a fumigant
injected into the soil to kill worms that destroy banana roots. DBCP causes
sterility, and was banned in the US in 1979, and in 1980 in the Philippines.