The company is the Philippines’ second largest exporter of tuna to North American, European and Asian markets under the Philfresh and Mommy Gina brand names.
However, despite Citra Mina’s billion dollar profits, its workers face precarious employment contracts, poor health and safety conditions, wages and social security disputes.
In an attempt to address such issues collectively, workers at Citra Mina formed the Samahang United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies Union in July 2013.
The workers’ request for union recognition was refused and Citra Mina began a round of dismissals from September 2013 to January 2014 that specifically targeted union members and supporters.
A strike and mediation efforts have failed to move the situation forward and the workers have remained barred from resuming their jobs.
Other employees, who number in the thousands, are precarious contract workers, many employed under the illegal ‘cabo’ system, which effectively allows employers to avoid paying and protecting their workers in accordance with the law.
However, a group of the sacked Citra Mina workers have continued to demand their reinstatement with full back pay and union recognition.
Their fight has become a focus for both fellow workers and consumers around the world who do not want their products tainted by exploitative practices.
The Citra Mina workers are supported by both the ITF and the IUF with representatives from both organisations continuing to maintain dialogue with local and national government officials in order to reach a just solution.
Kirill Buketov, sector coordinator for the IUF’s fisheries section, outlined the recent interventions undertaken by the union to resolve the stalemate.
“We have met Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, the secretary of the department of labour and employment (DOLE) and the IUF’s president, Ron Oswald has written to Philippines president Benigno Simeon C Aquino III to demand reinstatement of the workers with full back pay of the wages and recognition of the union,” he said.
The IUF also intends to increase pressure on the Philippines government to act in accordance with international law.
“We are planning to submit an ILO complaint against the government for the failure to guarantee implementation of the fundamental ILO conventions,” he said.