March 26, 2010
Contact Person: Alfie Alipio (SAMAHAN President) – 0920 825 4298
Hanjin Workers Buck Cancellation of Association
San Fernando, Pampanga– “Neither workers union nor association allowed,”
This was what Hanjin management wants, according to Alfie Alipio President of Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard (SAMAHAN). This is in reaction to Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Corp. (HHIC- Philippines) move to cancel the registration of the two-week old association.
“We [workers] banded together to watch out for our welfare as Hanjin has made a name for itself for its blatant violation of workers’ rights,” pointed out Alipio.
Members of SAMAHAN together with other labor groups staged a picket rally in front of the Region III Office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier today.
“We urge DOLE Region III to do the right thing and uphold our registration,” appealed Alipio, “don’t sell us out just because Hanjin is a big fish,”
SAMAHAN was duly registered March 5. Two weeks after, on March 24, the management of HHIC-Philippines filed a petition to cancel the registration as some association members do not have definite employers, a violation of Labor Code Art. 243.
Article 243 of the Labor Code, states that employees with or without any definite employers may form labor organizations for their mutual aid and protection. Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Corp. (HHIC-Phils.) currently employs twenty thousand shipbuilders under twenty one subcontractors.
‘We demand to the DOLE to show to this Korean conglomerate that in the Philippines we respect and recognize the democratic rights of individuals to form an association of their own choosing’, urged Alipio as he alongside other SAMAHAN members sport placards conveying their demands.
Hanjin Workers Watchdog Under Attack
March 24, 2010
Contact Person: Alfie Alipio (SAMAHAN President)- 0920 825 4298
Subic, Zambales– A two-week old Hanjin workers association up against Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corp. (HHIC-Phils.) petition to cancel its certificate of registration.
On March 6, 2010 the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard or SAMAHAN received its Certificate of Registration (R.O. 300-1002-WA-009).
“We created SAMAHAN for our welfare and protection”, said Alfie Alipio, SAMAHAN’s newly elected President.
This was after the workers union failed to secure a union registration after waiting for a year and a half. As the Department of Labor is yet to act upon the union registration of Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Workers Union.
According to Alipio the union met repressive actions from the management such as the termination of their members and reassignment of some of their officers to Hanjin Cagayan De Oro.
SAMAHAN officers Joey Gonzales (Secretary), Eddie Tantay (Vice-President) and Gonzales Bulting (member) after being assigned to the SBMA Training Center received a memo to become trainors of workers at Cagayan De Oro and was sent there last February 25.
“At Cagayan De Oro they did not train any worker, instead they worked as common shipbuilders at the Cagayan De Oro Training Center”, Alipio quipped.
Early this morning the association received notice of the HHIC-Phils. Petition to cancel SAMAHAN’s certificate of registration. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor scheduled a March 26, conference at its Region III, Regional office to tackle this.
‘Legally we do not have the right to a Collective Bargaining Agreement but only to juridical representation of our members’, Alipio added, ‘Why is it then that Hanjin seem to overreact on this matter?’
He also added that, the cancellation of the Hanjin Workers association’s certificate of registration is clearly overkill.
‘Do not strip our civil rights to the bottom, we demand that the Department of Labor do its job and give to us what’s rightfully ours’. Alfie Alipio ended.
In this light, SAMAHAN alongside Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Subic (SNMS) an association of Subic Urban Poor and Fisherfolks, Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN) and Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) Central Luzon will hold a protest rally in front of DOLE Region III office at exactly 10:00 a.m. the same time of the conference.
Hanjin Shipyard: Continuing Struggle for Labor Standards
A year ago, Hanjin shipyard came under public scrutiny following deaths and accidents which brave workers testified in a series of Senate hearings.
Following their public testimony, members and officers were subjected to different forms of harassment and repressive measures like dismissal of the victims who stood witness in the senate hearings as well as termination of active members.
Not only were the Hanjin workers up against a very antagonistic management but also against government institutions reluctant to uphold workers’ rights, for fear of reprisal from one of the biggest investors in the country.
Undeterred, the shipyard workers persevered and were able to build the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard or SAMAHAN last February 26.
RIGHT TO SELF-ORGANIZATION
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has yet to act on their union application, the workers chose to form an association that would be a ‘watch dog’—watching out for their welfare in the work place.
In the process of their bid to form an association, those suspected to be active in this endeavor were harassed.
Some were forced to undergo para-military training in the guise of “refresh training” last October at the SBMA Training Center. It consists of activities like hauling large stones under the heat of the sun and even weeding grasses without hand gloves.
These actions are no way related to the operation of Hanjin shipyard and directed at ‘breaking the spirit’ of workers and ultimately separating them from the rest of the workforce.
Union members Joey Gonzales, Eddie Tantay, Gonzales Bulting and Roger Makay were among those who went through the four months refresh training. They used to be deputy foremen who, by virtue of memorandums, found themselves at the training center.
By February 25, three union leaders who became association officers, Joey Gonzales (secretary), Eddie Tantay (vice-president) and Gonzales Bulting (member) were re-assigned to Cagayan De Oro as trainors for three months. Upon reaching Cagayan de Oro, they worked as shipbuilders and not trainors.
Meanwhile, Region III DOLE recognized Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard or SAMAHAN last February 26 but the order was released March 5.
Two am, March 16, Hanjin guards reported some materials were missing.
Gonzales, Tantay and Bulting only came to know of the incident by March 18 9am after Gonzales inquired about the summoned guards to fish vendor Marilou Tapon,he found out that some metal plates were missing.
The security guards were being investigated. By 5 pm Gonzales and Tantay were held for investigation as the two were accused of masterminding the incident.
Gonzales Bulting stood as witness for the three; they were sleeping together at their boarding house when the incident of theft allegedly happened. According to Rico Fernandez, the trainer manager, the kids who stole the metal slabs (weight: 20 tons) said that they were egged on by them in exchange for fish and cigarettes.
Jung Hee Yu, a Korean administration Manager, added that the children’s statement was enough to terminate the three and put them to jail while Glen Paredes a police escort of the Korean superiors said that the case would be qualified theft.
The next day, 3:20pm, a police officer and Rico Fernandez brought the kids: Jermel B. Signapan, 14, Jeger B. Signapan 10, Lambert Apdian 12 and Christian Paul Gallenero 13 (alleged to have stolen the metal slabs) and asked Joey Gonzales and Eddie Tantay if they knew the kids. The accused refused to answer them.
The kids scavenge scrap steels around their workplace but they do not know them by name. They were advised not to go back to work while the investigation is ongoing.
According to the statement of the kids, the “Tagalog” as they were called were not involved in the theft incident Rico Fernandez bribed and dictated them to point Tantay and Gonzales as their mastermind.
March 22 at 11:10am, as Joey Gonzales was making his way to the comfort room which was at the back of the gym, Jabinioa Janeson, a security guard, upon seeing Gonzales punched him in the face until he leaned and fell back first at the gym’s gate. They were separated by trainees. Gonzales alongside his two companions went to report the incident to the police station while Rico Fernandez followed after them. Afterwards, they were held at the Hanjin office for explanation.
Earlier that day, security guards Janeson, Asis Shielo and Bure Eduardo on different incidents threatened the three and challenged them to a fist fight. The guards added “nadadamay kami sa ginagawa nyo“ [ your actions are putting us in hot water ] and threateningly adding “ hindi ninyo kami kilala, hindi kami natatakot sa inyo, “ [you don’t know what we can do, we’re not afraid of you]
Yesterday, the metal plates were reportedly found by Glen Paredes but not in the hands of the accused. On the other hand, Gonzales, Bulting and Tantay were told to wait for their termination letter.
Other association workers were also harassed with the following incidents occurring in the Subic shipyard:
Six suspension memos equivalent to a one month suspension (March 15-April 14, 2010) were handed to Erickson Moreno (association treasurer) on March 13, 2010
- On the same day Four suspension memos equivalent to 15 days suspension (March 18 – April 6, 2010) were handed to Joel Morales (assoc. P.R.O.).
- Two workers, who suspected to be members, are forced, under threat of termination, by the HR Department to sign a waiver stating that they did not become a member of any workers association.
- Organizer Alfie Alipio is receiving threatening calls from an unknown individual.
- For two weeks now, Four hundred workers from three departments (Accomodation, Painting and Erection) in the Subic Shipyard were hauled outside the heat of the sun before break time and before going back to work. This last for thirty minutes then repeated ten minutes after every hour. This is done under the pretext of counting the number of workers present at the worksite.
- Today, Hanjin Subic shipyard files a petition for the cancellation of the association’s certificate. A conference at the DOLE Region III Regional office will be held on March 26, 2010 tackling the cancellation.
Occupational Health and Safety
Substandard Personal Protective Equipment such as welding masks and goggles and the irregular distribution of such PPE’s is one complaint. Without adequate PPEs, workers are liable to inhale too much smoke (which can cause choking) or too much steel fibers/ fillings from welding that given time, can clog the lungs and cause death.
The cases of Lloyd Abigania, Roy Guinavao and Rowell Tapalla who all died of acute pulmonary arrest illustrate the grim fate awaiting Hanjin workers within three years.
Greg Dosol’s case illustrates how Hanjin callously treats its workers, leaving them bereft of financial aid in their hour of need.
Last July 23, 2009 Greg fell while reaching for a bottle of water, falling more than thirty feet as the work area had no railings or safety nets. After, he suffered from amnesia and remained in the hospital for a month. His cousin, on his behalf, went to the Human Resource department for his SSS benefits thrice, but was told that the Dosol need to be present. Dosol forced himself to go, but only went as far as a block before he felt dizzy and nauseated. In the end, he and his wife went back to Kalinga, unable to access any support from Hanjin.
In the case of Tapalla, St. Jude Hospital refused to provide his family with a copy of the doctor’s diagnosis. And the wife was forced by the Human Resource Manager to sign a paper stating that Hanjin will only pay for his funeral expenses.
For its twenty thousand workers, the fourth largest ship building company is only able to provide a small clinic with two beds, a nurse and no permanent doctor when labor standards dictate that it should be a full-furnished hospital with a hundred and fifty bed capacity with permanent doctors and nurses.
Instances of maltreatment of Korean foremen against their Filipino subordinates abounds. One notable incident happened last January which ended in the deportation of the Korean Superior Lee Cheon Shik by the SBMA administration, after Arceo Malit the victim filed a complaint.
Still many other instances of workers hit by cudgels or helmet in the head is recurrently practiced by Korean foremen.
Wages and Benefits
A normal work-day of a Hanjin worker is eight hours and thirty minutes, (a thirty minute over of what the law is saying). On paper, they may be receiving higher than minimum wage (for an eight hour work day) but in light of the extra unpaid thirty minutes, they should not be subjected to tax, in effect they are under-paid.
Truly, Hanjin Shipyard is a black hole in relation to labor standards, where even an association, a self-help group, is not allowed to exist.
Being one of the biggest investors in the country to date, the labor practices of Hanjin, if they continue unchallenged, will only embolden other foreign companies to treat Filipino workers as they will, without fear of reprisal from the labor movement or the labor department. Taking a stand to assert the labor standards, must therefore start in Hanjin.