LUISITA WORKERS’ PLIGHT
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb 12, 2017
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A recruitment agency denied claims that workers from Bukidnon who were hired to work in Hacienda Luisita had been packed into dorm facilities that were not fit for habitation.
The recruitment firm, Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative, hired more than a thousand workers from Mindanao to work at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac last year, but dozens returned home in January, complaining of “slave-like” accommodation and accused the agency of duping them.
“It is totally untrue that their living conditions are inadequate,” said Greenhand general manager Billy Baitus in a statement.
“We have four buildings with good running water and continuous electricity for everyone,” Baitus said.
He said the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Luzon had given Greenhand a certificate of adequate temporary dwelling facilities for the four buildings that housed the workers.
Baitus also said the firm gave farmers what was promised them, including a steady salary of P220 per ton, free transportation between Tarlac and Bukidnon, cash advance of P2,500 upon departure and P2,500 on arrival, accident and health insurance, as well as social security benefits.
He said he found it puzzling why two other companies that had no role in the farmers’ recruitment were dragged into the controversy.
Baitus was referring to Agrikulto, a separate company that contracted Greenhand to recruit workers, and Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the sugar mill inside Luisita.
“They (Agrikulto and Azucarera) were not involved in the recruitment and hiring at all, and yet both companies were named as respondents and repeatedly mentioned in the media,” said Baitus.
Mario Memper, one of the farmers recruited by Greenhand, said while the dorm facilities of Greenhand had water and electricity, “there were no windows.”
In another statement, farmers Ricky Mahinay and Nancy Rama, who were among those recruited by Greenhand, said they were content with living conditions in their quarters.
“We are grateful that we were given work and a chance to help our families,” said Rama in the statement. —JIGGER JERUSALEM
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/870666/slave-like-conditions-not-true-says-recruiter#ixzz4Ydsx0UKr
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