Agroservicios Santa Fe and Tropical Fruits recognize SITRASEP and accept its terms.
At 4:00 am this morning, an assembly composed by workers on strike approved the agreement negotiated amongst SITRASEP (Private Sector’s Workers’ Union) and the companies Tropical Fruits Exportin and Agroservicios Santa Fe, puting an end to the strike. On the agreement, the companies recognized the Union as the workers’ legitimate representative, and promised to keep the agreement reached after the previous strike, on April this year.
The negotiation started around noon on Thursday. Representatives from the companies Agroservicios Santa Fe SA and Tropical Fruits Exportin RGM SA were present, as well as Sandra González (the mediator sent by the Labor Ministry), the strike comitee and SITRASEP’s board. The meeting ran until after 2:00 am on Friday.
The workers presented the demands that had previously been approved by an assembly at the begining of the strike. They were discussed one by one, after which important agreements were reached.
The Union was recognized
As part of the deal, both companies recognized that SITRASEP is the legitimate representative of its affiliated workers. They will hence permanently keep open the communication channels so that union representatives can accompany their affiliates in the midst of any conflict should it arise.
Non the less, the companies wouldn’t admit that they fired the union leaders as a meassure against the organization, so they did not reinstate them. SITRASEP kept its right to bring the case to judicial, administrative and human rights courts.
Severance payments and re-hiring
In answer to the workers’ demand of cashing their severance pay, the agreement establishes that the companies will do so, paying 75 each month. Tropical Fruits Exportin will directly and immediately hire them back and comply with all the rights granted by law.
The amount due will be supervised by the companies and the union at the end of each month, so the union can confirm they are correct.
Wages and labor rights
The companies promised to fulfill the agreements about social security and labour rights reached on April. They also promised to pay all workers minimum wages. They also admited there have been problems when paying workers from some areas.
To prevent this, the companies, the union and the workers will make a field visit on July 20th, in order to verify the labour conditions and guarantee minimum wage is paid.
No actions against the workers
The companies promised as well they will take no actions against the workers that went on strike.
Clarification on Exportaciones Norteñas’ role
The companies Agroservicios Santa Fe and Tropical Fruits took upon themselves the responsability of the employer-employee relationships, thus clarifying that Exportaciones Norteñas is not involved in this conflict. This is thus clarified on the agreement.
An exemplary strike
The representatives of the Workers’ Party (Partido de los Trabajadores – PT) of Costa Rica and the leaders of SITRASEP celebrate the agreement and see it as a triumph. To us, it means an important step forward, towards the building of a strong union that can defend the workers’ rights.
According to the Workers’ Party, the existence and recognition of the union “is a step forward in the struggle against the businessmen’s dictatorship upon the workers so they don’t independently organize themselves”.
What is evident is that Santa Fe’s pineapple plantation’s workers’ struggle and persistence is an example for all the working class in the country. Strikes and mobilizations are the true and effective methods of struggle of the working class.
With courage, the strikers faced threats of police repression and intimidation by the company. They took their decisions in democratic assemblies and elected their representatives the same way.
This strike received broad support from national and international organizations and unions. As noted by the Workers’ Party, this “exemplifies how the unity of struggles is the key to success”.
The Workers’ Party concluded that, as long as the Private Sector’s Workers’ Union (SITRASEP) exists and strengthens, workers will have an ally and a tool in order to struggle for the labor rights of the working class.
Originally published @ SocialismoHoy.com, July 15th.