Global unions have joined the campaign of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP) to gather one million signatures to express their strong opposition to the proposal to liberalize sugar imports.
The Union Network International-Philippine Liaison Council yesterday issued an appeal for international solidarity for the Philippine sugar workers and small farmers, Roland dela Cruz, UNI-PLC executive vice president, said.
De La Cruz is also NACUSIP president.
The UNI-PLC, in its appeal, pointed out that the Philippine government is eyeing the full liberalization of the importation of sugar into the country. Pushing through with the unrestricted sugar importation will cause the closures of sugar mills, massive dislocation and retrenchment of workers, and widespread unemployment of workers and farmers, it added.
Close to 700,000 Filipino workers are directly employed in sugar plantations, sugar mills and refineries, and bioethanol distilleries, along with 63,000 small sugar farmers, it said. In addition, about 5 to 6 million more are indirectly employed in sugar production, UNI-PLC said.
One industry expert estimates that, for every three tons of sugar produced, one worker is directly employed and about seven are indirectly employed, UNI-PLC said.
The sugar industry is plagued with problems, among which are low sugar yield per area of land, low sugar recovery per quantity of milled cane, and high cost of inputs. If an unrestricted importation of sugar is permitted without adequate regulation and safety nets, cheaper sugar from more efficient and high sugar-yielding countries like Australia, Brazil, and Thailand will flood the domestic market and displace workers and small farmers, it added.
The UNI Global Union affiliate, the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Workers Unions, with its sister federations, the NACUSIP and the Congress of Independent Organizations, launched the million-signature campaign Saturday in Bacolod City.
The UNI-PLC is extending its full support to the campaign against the unrestricted importation of sugar without adequate regulations and safety nets, dela Cruz said.
The UNI-PLC is calling for international solidarity in support of Philippine sugar workers and small farmers. The Philippine government needs to hear from UNI Global Union affiliates and other global unions to protect the jobs and livelihood of the hundreds of thousands of Philippine sugar workers and small farmers, he added.*
back to top