Date: Mon, 20 Jul 98 19:43:31 CDT
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Banana Bosses Reject Compromise Proposal
Weekly News Update on the Americas, #442, 19 July 1998
A proposed agreement for resolving ongoing disputes between banana workers and their employers has been rejected by plantation bosses. The proposal, drafted by the High Commission named to help end the conflict, lays out conditions for resuming production at four farms in Izabal province and includes concessions from both workers and management. The commission calls on the workers to return to work and make no claims for outstanding wages or benefits, and asks management to rehire the workers whose dismissals provoked the disputes. Both parties should desist from legal actions, the proposal states.
Representatives of one of the banana companies involved called the deal "inconceivable." Oscar Arroyo, lawyer for BANDEGUA, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce, said the only way to end the work stoppage is by evicting the protesting workers from the farms. In a letter to the High Commission, the Guatemalan Workers Union Federaion (UNSITRAGUA) and worker representatives from the Alabama and Arizona plantations accepted the package. Although the commission's proposal "does not fulfill all our aspirations, we have decided to accept it in full," they wrote.
The conflicts in Izabal erupted last February after farm management tried to break union organizing drives [see Updates #426, 429, 431]. According to labor representatives, the employers broke Guatemalan law by firing workers who had registered their organizing drive with labor courts. [Cerigua Weekly Briefs #27, 7/16/98]