Behind Every Hanjin Vessel: Living and Dying in Hanjin Shipyard, Philippines

Behind Every Hanjin Vessel:

Living and Dying in Hanjin Shipyard, Philippines

In 2005, the Arroyo administration, inking a 50-year lease agreement with Korean shipping giant, Hanjin Shipping and its Philippine arm, Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation (HHIC-Philippines), bagged what would be the biggest influx of investment to date.

  Earmarked for Hanjin was two hundred and sixty-three hectares in Subic Freeport Zone (formerly US Subic Naval Base); Hanjin got generous benefits bundled with the deal like ten-year tax holidays.  By 2015, Hanjin was projecting a workforce of 45, 000 Filipino workers.

There are Jobs But…      

Applicants from as far South as Cagayan De Oro and Surigao to as far North as Kalinga and the Cordilleras, would leave for Subic for the sake of their loved ones back home. Often ‘coordinators’ or ‘intermediaries’ from their home provinces would go with them until they are able to settle into apartments or workers’ barracks.

They are trained from 1-3 months at KC Tech/ Greebnbeach (a subsidiary of Hanjin) and receive an allowance of Php 150 (USD 3.00) per day. Once they pass, they undergo six months probation. Some received further training in Korea for three months with an allowance of Php 7,000 (USD 155.00).

While at the training center they sign a five-year contract that provides board, lodging, transportation and food.

Hanjin’s nineteen (19) sub-contractors divide the workers among themselves. This absolves Hanjin of liability, as they argue that they do not directly employ any of the twenty one thousand workers currently found in the Subic shipyard. Periodically, Hanjin management makes them sign new employment contracts with their sub-contractors that take turns in “hiring” them.

In truth, they neither receive those benefits nor do they get to keep a copy of their contract. They earn Php 316.00 (USD 0.94/ hour) a day. Three percent of their salaries are for ‘training expenses’ and a quarter of their take-home pay is spent on their transportation. They reside in cramped apartments with four to six persons or more in a room to share the rent. Other deplorable work conditions are:

The Hanjin canteen offers workers sub-standard food. Sometimes these are spoiled and worst is maggot-laden food or thin gruel, due to unhygienic and unsystematic food handling. In contrast, the Korean superiors are well paid, well fed by a chef.

They work in two shifts: 8am to 5pm and 7pm to 4am but are made to report thirty minutes earlier.  Sometimes they are forced to work back-to-back shifts. Their cell phones are confiscated upon entry.

Table 1: List of Recent Incidents:

(As of March 2011)

Mark I. Abaya

March 8, 2011

PPE was burnt by the tip of the cutting torch


Sustained 2nd degree burns on his left arm

Allan I. Olanosa

March 15, 2011

A T-Bar Line at the panel part fell off and crushed his right leg.


The bone of his left foot must undergo immediate operation; a stainless steel will be inserted in place to the broken bone.


Edison Roncal Malit,

March 15, 2011

Lost balance and fell off a platform about 20 foot high


The bone in his elbow jutted out, his chin was crushed resulting into cracks in his teeth, he also sustained bruises in his left eye and suffers lower back pain

John March Casol,

March 12, 2011

Fell off a scaffold (ten feet high)


Dislocated left arm

Christopher Nera,

March 14, 2011

Ordered to lift the metal plates (600 x 1000 cm x 30 cm) that are usually lifted by cranes which was dropped and pinned his finger



Aldrin Duhilag,

March 14, 2011

leaked cutting torch burnt his gloves and hand



Alvin Placio, at erection 1, Dock 5. On

April 9, 2011

Hit by a 60 kilo steel plate on the head


Forced to work by his Korean foreman despite pipefitters working overhead

Ronnie Pacubas

April 8, 2011

Fell off a scaffold




(As of 2011)

Alvin Dalunag

April 11, 2011

Fell off his work area 6 foot high, his head hit on metal stiffeners



Andy Bernardino

April 15, 2011

Hit by a metal panel board (250 kilo) on his forehead


Comatose died on April 19


Maltreatment of Korean superiors to Filipino subordinates continues to occur. In just a month (March to April 2011) three workers from different incidents were either hit by a maglite (a solid metal flashlight) on their head while the other one was hit by an industrial scissor on right leg by his Korean foreman.


1. Emerson Llorera

May 22, 2009

Smacked in the face with his leave form, choked and afterwards challenged in a fist fight

Mr. Kim Deuk Yong

2. Joseph Adolfo and

May 23, 2009,

were instructed by their assistant foremen to wait for the air pressure to peak before starting work. Slapped, pushed and shouted at


3. Jojo O. Dumlao

were instructed by their assistant foremen to wait for the air pressure to peak before starting work. kicked in the chest and if he had not embraced a scaffold he could have died in a 10 feet fall


4. Rexyll A. Lanawan

June 8 2009

kicked and stabbed by a marking pen on the head

Mon Son Beak

5. Arceo Malit,

June 17, 2009,

Hit with a steel flashlight in the face and on the head for no reason. He was almost unconscious when came out of the locked tool room where he was held by a Korean Foreman while being beaten.

Lee Cheon Sik, a foreman

6. Orlan Paul A. Isidro

July 2009

He was hit by pencil grinder on his head by his Korean Manager for allege not following the rules.

7. Precious E. Marty

October 1, 2010

‘Binatukan’ or knocked on the head and yanked because of failing to lift a metal plate

Mr. Sang Joo Lee

8. Mark Ilagan,

March 28, 2011

hit by a maglite(a solid metal flashlight) on his head

Mr. Park Soo Hyun

9. Jessie Emih

April 25, 2011

knocked on the head (binatukan) for several times

Mr. Choi Sang Ho

10. Jenepher Baculo Abejo

May 10, 2011

An industrial scissor was thrown at his person hitting his right leg resulting in a wound 1-1.5cm. deep

Mr. Yoon Ki Cheol

11. Christopher   Alejandro

May 28, 2011

Choked (sinakal)

Woo Yeon Lee


Ironically, the management denies the deaths to escape responsibility and public scrutiny although for some cases wherein SAMAHAN demanded for their burial benefits families were able to receive Php 85, 000.00 after being made to sign waivers under duress.


The small seven bed onsite clinic with its two part time medical doctors and two nurses is inadequate for the twenty one thousand strong workforces with the nearest hospital about forty-five minutes away. According to the Labor Code, the on-site health facility must be a fully functioning 150-300 bed hospital. In addition, personal protective equipments, a must, given the dangerous nature of shipbuilding, were scarce, substandard and dirty. Management brushed aside complaints and reprimand complainants.


Hanjin did not budge even after the Senate Labor Committee looked into the cases of deaths made public by workers, relatives and concerned citizens. It even denied some of the deaths in its report to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority claiming only nineteen of the twenty-nine incidents.


Studies made by labor center Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan or MAKABAYAN, based on the pattern of ailments being observed among the workers, indicates an alarming trend of death from lung and respiratory ailments in two to three years time.  There was a case where a doctor found steel filings embedded in the lungs of an unfortunate worker.


The Labor Department rated Hanjin’s compliance to health and safety standards at 42.6% in 2008. It says Hanjin was partially compliant on major areas of concern while fully compliant on minor matters. However in an October letter to MAKABAYAN by the Task Force Hanjin it stated that the company is now fully compliant to Occupational Health and Safety and Labor Standards.

 The World’s Fourth Largest Ship Builder Comes to the Philippines

 So what is so special about Hanjin Shipping? It is a part of the Hanjin Group and sister company to Korean Air. It has made a name for itself from World War II and lucrative deals with the US military in all the major wars of the 20th century. A big fish has come to our little pond and is thumbing its nose on our labor laws and on our people’s rights. (Since World War II, Hanjin has made a name for itself through lucrative deals with the US military in all the major wars of the 20th century.)

Behind Every Vessel

 Since 2007, the Hanjin shipyard has exported 24 ships with the smallest (4300 TEU) containership priced at USD 60,000,000. As of last count, the unpaid extra thirty minutes since 2008 now amounts to Php 377, 400,000 (USD 8,386,667). The period coinciding with the deaths in Hanjin was the period the company earned USD 470 Million.

In January 2011 Aquino has commended the company for being able to funnel around Php 24.2 billion worth of investments in the country or about 40% of the total FDI’s last year.

By its own account, management estimates windfall of USD 3.4 Billion by 2012 because of the accelerated pace of work. Pushed by untenable and inhumane working conditions, workers found refuge in their unity but are facing persecution from management.

Many of the active members were laid-off, suspended or subjected to ‘refresher courses’ that entail clearing garbage inside the compound and para-military exercises, all under the intense heat of the sun. Hanjin sent some of them to its shipyard in Mindanao, left their tenure pending. Indefinitely, framed-up for stealing Hanjin’s property and later illegally terminated them.

Through their perseverance, however, workers’ association the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin or SAMAHAN won its accreditation early this year, but this too is perpetually harassed by management and its own shipyard police.


Action Points

 The sheer size of the Hanjin workforce makes it a rarity in the labor landscape and the extent of the violation of internationally recognized labor standards makes it a chilling precedent if gone unchecked. Thus, the SAMAHAN along with MAKABAYAN, NUBCW-BWI, NASSA-CBCP, Urban Missionaries and other religious organizations under the Church-Labor Conference initiated an ongoing campaign to demand that labor standards must operate within Hanjin shipyard.

If possible, we would like to ask you to be a part of an advocacy campaign for the issues and concerns of Hanjin workers. The spokesperson for SAMAHAN, Mr. Joey Gonzales would be more than happy to accommodate your queries. Also, we’re willing to host a ‘reality-tour’ to Hanjin. ###

3 Comments on “Behind Every Hanjin Vessel: Living and Dying in Hanjin Shipyard, Philippines”

  1. xhryz says:

    When this people will have their justice?

  2. jeff says:

    oo, mga walang kwentang amo yang mga koreano na yan dahil nagtrabaho ako dyan for 6 months, pero my mababait din, yung pagkain talagang madumi at bara bara ang pgkakaluto, sa transfortation ang mahirap, kasi walang sistema,

  3. Undeniably believe that that you said. Your favourite reason
    seemed to be on the internet the easiest factor to consider of.
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    issues that they just don’t understand about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as neatly as defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

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