The owners of the Hacienda Luisita in the Philippines will shut down its operations in March to thwart workers involved in a bitter dispute.
The four-month dispute at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), the biggest sugar refinery in the Philippines, began in November when workers belonging to the CATLU union organised a strike following deadlock in the collective bargaining agreement talks. Employers sacked union leaders and threatened workers. CATLU received solidarity from another local union, the ULWU farm workers’ union.
On 16 November, seven demonstrators were killed by bullets when an anti-riot force of more than a thousand policemen and soldiers tried to disperse the protesters’ main picket line at the gate of the CAT compound.
Following the announcement of the closure, leaders and members of CATLU and ULWU vowed to continue to “militantly man our picket lines until a mutually acceptable agreement has been reached”.