September 13, 2011
Dear friends and fellow workers,
Fatal accidents in the Hanjin shipyard in Subic Bay, reminiscent of 2008-2009, have brought on growing discontent among the twenty-one thousand strong work force since May 1.
A ‘fatal accident’ in this case means an accident that necessitated entry to/ confinement in a hospital and often leads to the death of the victim/s. In contrast, ‘non-fatal’ accidents (ranging from minor skin wounds/abrasions, skin irritation, swollen and irritated eyes from over-exposure to welding fumes and metal fillings and a loss of a limb or two) occur with alarming frequency.
The long queues of workers awaiting treatment from the nurses on duty at the small clinic everyday is a testament to how dangerous shipyard work is.
From March to April 2011 there were 9 fatal accidents involving 10 workers, where two died in separate incidents (April 11 and April 15). To date, the number of workers that died since May 2006 is now thirty one (31).
Also, from March 28 to May 28, we’ve documented five (5) cases of maltreatment by Korean superiors of Filipino workers involving five workers.
Ironically, the accidents continue to happen amid the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) effort to conduct cultural orientation training and monitoring duties of its TASK FORCE HANJIN.
In fact, last January 30, the Labor Department declared Hanjin as ‘fully compliant’ to labor and OHS standards.
To address this, SAMAHAN (the workers association in Hanjin) wrote several letters to management putting forth the still unresolved issues at the yard:
• Implementation of occupational health and safety standards like provision of PPE and building of an onsite 300-bed hospital facility within the site
• Prevent maltreatment
• Provide clean and healthy food
• Reinstatement of the 40 illegally dismissed workers (suspected of being association and union members).
There was no response. The management even went as far as refusing to sign a received copy of SAMAHAN’s letter.
SAMAHAN decided to launch lunch-breaks noise calling for management to answer the letter and involve the workers in providing solutions to the above concerns.
The management responded by:
• Suspending 5 SAMAHAN leaders
• Terminating Roy Salazar, a committee leader of SAMAHAN on June 6
• Calling the Hanjin security to the scene where one worker was dragged away from the group participating in the noise barrage. It resulted into a melee as the workers refused to give up their member and
• Requesting for the presence of 15 elements of the Special Action Force at the shipyard.
• Harassment of two SAMAHAN leaders Renante Buccat and Benjamin Abenes Jr. on June 16 by detaining and interrogating them inside the investigation room of the Hanjin Police Security and telling them that “Bawal ang SAMAHAN sa Hanjin”(SAMAHAN or the association is prohibited in Hanjin).
• Today (June 17), the two leaders were forcibly taken by the Hanjin Security to the Subic Police Station to be detained. They are being coerced by the police officers to sign certain papers without the presence of their lawyer.
The Catholic Church has intervened in our behalf to facilitate a meeting with management but management still refuses to answer.
The media response on the issue remains limited. We are still in the process of harnessing the support of mainstream media to expose the violations of labor rights at the ‘fourth world’s largest shipbuilding facility’.
We appeal to all workers organizations and concerned institutions to:
• Send letters of condemnation and demanding to the Hanjin Management to Stop the repression of SAMAHAN leaders and immediately reinstate the suspended and terminated workers.
• Send letters to the Labor Department, Office of the President Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and the management of HHIC-Phils., Inc. to uphold the basic rights of its 21, 000 strong Filipino workforce
• Demand the strict implementation not only of internationally recognized labor conventions like ILO Convention 87 Right to Self-Organization and 98 Right to Collective Bargaining Agreement, 1981 and Occupational Health and Safety Convention C155 that ensures the enforcement of laws and regulations on OHS in the working environment but that of the provisions of the Philippine Labor Code (P.D.442 as amended) Art. III Chapter I , which states the role of the state that it must Afford protection to labor…regulate the relations between workers and employers and assure the rights of workers to self-organization and just and humane conditions of work.”
Let us join hands in the struggle to put back dignity and respect for the inherent right of workers to organize. We hope that you would support our cause.
Please send your letters to the following and copy furnish us:
1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Mrs. Rosalinda Baldoz
Department of Labor and Employment
7th Flr. DOLE Building,
Muralla St. corner Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
Fax/ Tel: +632 527 3494
3. Mr. Taek Kyun Yoo
External Trade Part
HHIC Phil. Inc.
Mt. Redondo Peninsula Agusuhin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales