by CITA MANAGUELOD
TUGUEGARAO CITY — Representatives of agricultural workers in sugarcane and bioethanol plantations in Cagayan Valley attended the successful 8th Congress of the National Federation of Sugar Workersc- Food and General Trades (NFSW-FGT) in Bacolod City last May 30-31, aiming to unite with nationwide efforts to oppose intensifying neoliberal exploitation and repression of mill and farm workers in the sugar and bioethanol industry.
Union ng Maralitang Maggagawa sa Agrikultura – Isabela (UMAMI), Sta. Cruz Farmers Association in Pereda, Delfin Albano, DAGAMI – San Mariano and Kagimungan (Peasant Alliance of Cagayan) sent representatives to the NFSW-FGT Congress to re-establish linkages with the national federation founded in 1971 to lead the struggle of sugar workers in the fields and mills for land, just wages, benefits, job security and the right to unionize. In the congress with the theme “Palakasin at Palawakin ang NFSW bilang pambansang pederasyon ng mga manggagawang bukid sa tubuhan. Ipaglaban ang tunay na reporma sa lupa, karapatan at kagalingan ng mga manggagawang bukid sa tubuhan!”,
Cagayan Valley delegates highlighted the slave-like wages and miserable working conditions of sugar workers in the region, the poor implementation of the Social Amelioration and Welfare Program and denial of land rights to agricultural farmworkers. Together with representatives from Batangas, Tarlac, Bukidnon, Socksargen, Panay and Negros, Cagayan Valley delegates expressed their determination to solve the yearly tiempo muerto (dead season) also affecting plantation and mill workers in sugarcane farms in Tuao, Piat, Solana and Enrile in Cagayan and bioethanol areas in Delfin Albano, San Mariano, Ilagan and Echague in Isabela by struggling to end elite land monopoly and the lack of
NFSW delegates in a protest action in fron of the Bacolod City Hall on June 1 enjoined the state for the continuation of the peace process (between the government and the National Democratic Front), especially after both have declared that they agree to free land distribution and wide-ranging socio-economic reforms. Reynaldo Gameng, CV peasant leader scored Pres. Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as this will worsen state repression of workers and peasants. #nordis.net