Hanjin workers appeal to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)

January 30, 2011

Your Excellencies,

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.
• Maltreatment
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,

ALFIE ALIPIO-President-SAMAHAN

MELCHOR REMEDIOS-President -HHIC-Phil. Inc Workers Union

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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 .

Already, word had gone out that there would be jobs aplenty, Hanjin expected to employ forty-five thousand workers by year 2015.

Simple Dreams Broken      

Applicants from as far South as Cagayan De Oro and Surigao to as far North as Kalinga and the Cordilleras, would leave for Subic with simple dreams for 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.

In Subic, they train in Hanjin’s KC Tech/Green Beach for one to three months and received an allowance of Php 150 (USD 3.00). 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).

Hanjin’s forty-two sub-contractors divide the workers among themselves. They sign a five-year contract that provides board, lodging, transportation and food.

This practice conveniently absolves Hanjin of liability, as they are able to argue that they do not directly employ any of the fifteen thousand workers currently found in the Subic shipyard. Except during the early years of Hanjin operation, workers do not even receive their termination papers. Periodically, the Hanjin management makes them sign new employment contracts with their sub-contractors that takes turn in “hiring” them.

In truth, they neither receive those benefits nor do they get to keep a copy of their contract. They earn Php 306.00 (USD 0.60/ hour) a day. Three percent of their salaries are for ‘training expenses’ and a quarter of their take-home pay is spent on transportation. They reside in cramped apartments with six to eight 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 and unpalatable scraps which are better suited for pigs or ’kanin-baboy’. In contrast, the Korean superiors are well paid, well fed and well provided for.
  • 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 IDs and cell phones confiscated upon entry into the compound. Often, they are bullied verbally, physically and psychologically to extract acquiescence and obedience.
  • From 2007 to 2009, work-related deaths came to the public eye. More than 5,000[i] accidents which resulted to 17 fatal accidents and the death of 28 workers (crushed by tons of metal, impaled by slabs, fell off a platform and death by suffocation) while some counted 321 malaria cases among workers and residents around Hanjin suffered from malaria cases[ii]. Aside from this, workers were burnt or scalded, cut, maimed and bruised inside Hanjin shipyard to an alarming degree. The culprit: Hanjin was beating its targets of building ships while rushing to finish its shipyard facilities.

Ironically, their simple dreams died with them as the victim’s families were unable to claim any death benefits; some even signed waivers under duress.

  • The small on-site clinic with its only part-time medical personnel and staff and was inadequate for the fifteen thousand strong workforce with the nearest hospital more than an hour 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%. It says Hanjin was partially compliant on major areas of concern while fully compliant on minor matters.

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 14 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.

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 for stealing Hanjin’s property and later suspended them for a month.

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

Action Points

Imagine, signing up for a shipyard and ending up in a graveyard! We believe that development can only be possible when we treat our human resources, in this case Filipino labor, with respect and dignity.

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 would be initiating a campaign to demand that labor standards must operate within Hanjin shipyard.

For more information on Hanjin and its workers contact:

Precy Dellomes (MAKABAYAN) contact number: 0922 2749 049

Email: makabayan2003@yahoo.com 

 

Alfie Alipio (SAMAHAN President) 09301870800

E-mail Address: Hanjinsubicworkersunion@yahoo.com

Also you can access us online at Hanjinworkers@wordpress.com

 

If possible, we would like to ask you to cover such events in your media organization. The spokesperson for SAMAHAN, Mr. Alfie Alipio would be more than happy to accommodate your queries.

Also, we’re willing to host a ‘reality-tour’ to Hanjin.


Data cited from DOLE as of February 20, 2009

[ii]Data cited from the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center study as of

 January to June 2007


Hanjin Workers Buck Cancellation of Association

Press Release

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.

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Hanjin Workers Watchdog Under Attack

Hanjin Workers Watchdog Under Attack

 Press Release

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.

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Hanjin Shipyard: Continuing Struggle for Labor Standards

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.

 Maltreatment

                       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.

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