January 30, 2011
The HHIC-PI Workers Union (HHICPIWU) and the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard (SAMAHAN) would like to update you on the present situation of the twenty thousand workers of HANJIN.
HHIC-Phils Inc. or HANJIN is a Korean shipbuilding company inside Subic Freeport and Economic Zone, an area said to be the New Global Gateway of Asia to rival Hong Kong or Singapore.
In this ‘advanced shipbuilding facility’, its laborers earn one-tenth (1/10) the salary of their Korean counterparts and the reason why they are globally-competitive in the shipbuilding industry.
Aside from this, the workers suffer the following:
• Fatal Accidents and Non – Compliance to Occupational Health & Safety Standards
After an alarming series of accidents at HANJIN, Senate Labor Committee of the 14th Congress moved to investigate.
HANJIN was found remiss in implementing necessary occupational health and safety measures such as providing safety gadgets and personal protective equipment or PPEs, especially since shipbuilding is essentially a hazardous work environment.
Also, there are neither fulltime doctors nor a fully-equipped hospital facility. The nearest hospital is an hour away. The findings also attributed frequent accidents to subcontracting work activities .
• Union Repression
HHIC-Philippines Incorporated released a memorandum adopting tougher safety measures. This development was lauded by the Union.
However, the health and safety memorandum was used to suppress the workers’ right to self organization and divert the public attention by putting the blame on the workers.
In fact, more than 60 workers have been terminated under the pretext of health and safety violations, most of them union officers and active union members.
Filipino workers experience maltreatment from their Korean counterparts like slapping, knocking their heads or hard hats (‘binabatukan’), kicking and verbal abuse .Filipinos see this as humiliating.
There was a reported incident that two Korean foremen had hit some Hanjin workers’ heads and slapped one man with rubber gloves. The Filipinos acted in defense. Two Koreans sustained bruises and cuts on their faces while eight Filipino workers were terminated and jailed. Forty others were suspended.
After subsequent intervention from the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-NASSA) along with Urban Missionaries of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (UM-AMRSP), we were able to achieve the following heartening developments:
• Release of the Registration Certificate of the Workers Association (October 28,2010)
• DOLE has formed Task Force Hanjin to monitor the compliance of HHIC Philippines to the labor standards by conducting timely audits and inspection.
• After a dialogue between UM-AMRSP, Hanjin workers and MAKABAYAN with the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) and a letter from Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo; a favorable decision was granted by the National DOLE-BLR in response to our appeal for union registration last (October 28, 2010)
Unfortunately, last November 2010, we received a motion for reconsideration to nullify the decision of the national DOLE-BLR that granted our appeal in favor of the union registration.
The motion for reconsideration was filed by Green beach Power Tech/ formerly KC Tech, an affiliate company and now the main contracting company of HHIC- Phil’s Inc. at its Subic Shipyard.
Quite disturbing is the fact that we have already received the Green beach Power Tech / KC Tech Motion for Consideration who are not a party to our application for registration when we, the union, have not yet received the said favorable decision of Hon. DOLE BLR Director Rebecca Chato.
We find the turn of events in need of necessary intervention especially since DOLE Region III Office has yet to take action on this matter.
Calling for Pro-Active Action
The relation between labor and capital at HANJIN is on a shaky ground. To make it rather tenable, workers rights to self organization must be recognized. Unfortunately, the Hanjin Workers Union application for union registration is still pending.
UN Conventions and the subsequent creation of the International Labor Organization is hinged on the recognition of the worker’s right to organize, to achieve a feasible equalizer in the essentially unequal relations existing between labor and capital.
Concretely, we ask your Excellencies to send a letter to the National DOLE-BLR asking for the (re)issuance of the aforementioned decision and finally issue a registration certificate for the union.
We hope that we continue our joint efforts to pursue a better work environment for HANJIN, for although some issues have made headway, still there is a long way to go.
Very truly yours,
MELCHOR REMEDIOS-President -HHIC-Phil. Inc Workers Union