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
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
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
Manila 1002
Fax/ Tel: +632 527 3494
Email: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

3. Mr. Taek Kyun Yoo
General Manager,
External Trade Part
HHIC Phil. Inc.
Mt. Redondo Peninsula Agusuhin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales



  1. Michael Fonseca says:


    You have raised some valid points. But I have some differences.

    But “fatal” accident (in all countries – whether Phils. or USA, Australia or UK – the countries that have the highest inustrial health and safety standards ) does not mean what you have said.

    Fatal accident means an accident in which a person has died. to the best of my knowledge, there have been 2 this year at hanjin.

    What you refer to are called “near fatal”. In our country the Philippines, the government classifies these as “Accidents requiring hospitalisation” or LTI (same as USA). These are also very serious, as it is only the mercy of God due to which these were not fatal. But calling them fatal is also misleading people.

    • Hi, your comment regarding the qualification on the use of the word fatal accidents is well taken. We understood those existing meaning that is why we made it a point to put immediate clarification on the first part of the paper.

      • Michael Fonseca says:

        Hi, well noted. Hope in the aftermath of the accident in Keppel, the Hanjin HHIC Phil management takes note and beefs up it’s safety.

        I wonder why DOLE dont publicly place the results of their investigation? After all, we as tax paying citizens deserve to know this, dont we? It will also make Dole and Hanjin look like they are not trying to hide anything

      • Indeed Michael,

        The workers who struggle for better and humane working conditions will take their struggle into a higher level. SAMAHAN recently filed a case at the Commission on Human Rights and all international human rights commissions and organizations that will stand for the rights of these workers. Please help us spread the word. Be a member of the Friends of Hanjin Workers.

  2. precy dagooc says:

    hey michael regarding DOLE’s stand on the issue of the Hanjin workers they (the management and DOLE) seem to really hide “something”. On August 4, 2011 the Commission on Human Rights conducted an initial run down of the case and we were all instructed (Hanjin management, DOLE and SAMAHAN-MAKABAYAN) were urged to submit a position paper. The deadline was last November 4, 2011 yet up to present the Labor department has not submitted their position paper. We are seriously accusing them of colluding with the Hanjin management

  3. Michale Fonseca says:

    Hi Precy,

    Yes – that is possible. I think as compared to a normal factory, a shipyard is (always) a dangerous work place (anywhere in the world – even Japan, USA, Europe).

    At the same time, we must not neglect that there are 21,000 families directly (and another 10,000 families indirectly ) dependent on Hanjin shipyard so it IS a good thing for us Filipinos. If this shipyard does well, then the Mindanao one will give more jobs, and maybe more MNCs will set up their yards in our country, and we Filipinos will not have to go to foreign countries doing jobs like domestic helper and worker.

    The trouble is DOLE does nto have any clear specific regulations for shipyards.

    I saw department circular 1/2009 of DOLE – guidelines for shipyard safety – it is absolute nonsense and does not make one specific requirement.

    It is time DOLE came out with a good proper specific set of regulations for shipyard safety – this will make the life of workers far better.

    • Hello Michael,

      I’m inclined to great you a happy new year yet this year did not come easy on us. Another workers died this January 01, 2012. He fell off a 32 feet platform on December 17, 2012 we frantically tried to reach his family as soon as we can but the holiday season get the better of the situation and we were up to find out from his kin that he died this new year after being comatose.

      yes, it becomes ironic that we remember the 23,ooo workers and the family it indirectly supports and we desperately hope nobody loses another poor soul, a finger or a limb again and not another fatherless kid plunges into below poverty line. There were already 6 deaths since March last year.

      As you have said the circular is basically in general terms according to DOLE its for the workers organization and the management to define the specifics and it would be best if they follow the international standards. It could have been an easy start to mend this big gulf on safety implementation if the management arranges to negotiate and work hand in hand with the workers association SAMAHAN or Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard. But it has been as stiff as a stick yard towards it’s initiatives.

      On the other hand, DOLE issued a recent decision directing SAMAHAN to omit the word “Hanjin” from its name. This is a long story to tell but the thing is that it doesn’t answer the problem at hand which is the glaring safety record of this company.

      I hope you can help us bring the workers issue into the public.

      • Michael Fonseca says:

        Hello, Yes -that is being sad. But I have noticed another thing which is even more sadder. Slowly I can see Hanjin safety improving – more of us workers have been given safety equipment now. But (and this saddens me so much) half the workers are not even using / wearing what they get from the shipyard. I cannot understand why! I keep telling my friends.

        The moment I got my goggles, I started wearing them (I was a grinder at Hanjin at that time) – mainly because I know how difficult it will be for my family if something happens to my eyes. I can see that the Hanjin HSE department is become slowly but surely more active. But I also think there must be more education of the workers for safety.

      • Michael Fonseca says:

        Hello Hanjin workers,

        Yes, indeed it is sad. I has been visiting Hanjin shipyard often over the last 3 years.

        This year I visited the yard 4 times and spoke to many workers and some people from the management. I learnt from the workers that now, some ship owners are starting to push Hanjin to improve their safety – and this is finally good news. the workers were happy about this advancement.

        However, I don’t think the shipyard top people still believe much in safety. They talk but don’t do much. This is where Hanjin has to improve it’s attitude. This is just my opinion.

        The behaviour of many of their foremen and managers is terrible.

        they don’t understand that we Filipinos behave in a different manner. The Koreans shout at the workers, not realising that for us Filipinos, this is a very big insult and we lose face with our friends. They shout and throw orders instead of talking properly and decent.

  4. Omar T. VIola says:

    Hello! I am Omar T. Viola, a third year Architecture of DLS-CSB I am currently taking up Architectural Design 5 which specializes on Intermodal Transportational Hubs. As part of my course, I was assigned on Redesigning the HHIC-phil on the year 2050. I would like to ask if it is possible to contact some of the esteemed officers or members of SAMAHAN for information needed for my design strategies.

    If possible, I will be posting my email address for contacting purposes.
    As soon as I get an email or reply from this post, I will personally contact Him/her para hindi po hassle sa kanila.

    Email: omartviola@gmail.com
    cell no. ; 09156361933

    Thank you and Godbless !!

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