Widening rich-poor gap stokes protests Agence France-Presse, Associated Press 1:31 am | Monday, October 17th, 2011
The Story Behind Subic-made ships of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Phils., Inc.
Author: Hanjin Workers
A Briefing Paper: The Story Behind Subic-made ships of
Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Phils., Inc.
Since June 2008, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Phils., Inc. manufactured and delivered twenty four vessels, 14 of which is worth $850 million. For the last two years, Hanjin remains the top exporter in Subic Freeport Zone by earning a total amount of $ 372.74 Million freight on board (FOB).
With an initial investment of $721 Million, the South Korean conglomerate started operating in May 2006. It was the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Philippines that inked a 50-year lease agreement with then President Arroyo. Hanjin started out with a 15,000 workforce it now employs 21, 000 Filipino workers. Now, the company targets to sell about $700 Million worth of vessels by 2010, $935 Million in 2011, and $1.28 Billion in 2012.
Taking into account the generous benefits bundled with the deal like the ten year tax holiday in less than four years the company will be earning back its $ 1.8 Billion investment in no time. It is for this reason that Hanjin quality assurance director Yoonha Kim commended the Filipino workers for ‘learning fast in shipbuilding’. What then is the state of its 21,000 diligent Filipino shipbuilders?
Recurrence of Accidents and Maltreatment
SAMAHAN (Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard) in its documentation observed in the early week of March 2011 an alarming frequency in fatal accidents occurring at the Subic site. In a span of almost five months, four workers died out of twenty-seven (27) grave accidents that occurred at the shipyard. These accident victims were either confined in the hospital or incapacitated just as the case of Ronaldo Alvarez who was caught between two metal panel boards that painfully twisted his lower torso turning his lower body invalid. He underwent three major operations including blood transfusions.
Whereas, less serious accidents such as minor skin wounds or 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. Every day, the long line of workers awaiting treatment from the nurses on duty at the small clinic has become a living testimony to how dangerous shipyard work is.
On the contrary, from March 28 to June 11, the association documented six (6) cases of maltreatment of Filipino workers by Korean superiors. Maltreatment ranges from choking, kicking, being hit on the head with solid metal flashlight (Maglite) or being hit by an industrial scissor (used for cutting iron sheets).
Questionable Safety In the Workplace
The poor safety record of the light-industrial Zone and Freeport came to light in 2008 with a string of accidents and deaths. Congress and Senate Labor Committee took steps to conduct an inquiry into the matter. In the first quarter of 2009, the number of deaths reached twenty four (24) while according to the Occupational Health and Safety section of the Labor Department reported 5,000 accidents with 40 deaths.
Workers were encouraged to expose how their Korean superiors handle them like yelling, swearing, knocking their heads, kicking and hitting them with hard objects in order to “extract obedience.” Food is another perennial problem as it was often stale or maggot laden. It was also pointed out that one of the reasons of the accidents is the widespread use of subcontractors. In an ocular visit conducted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada on the shipyard the following recommendations were cited:
At first SAMAHAN’s registration was rejected but eventually granted last March 2010. Once more, the management appealed and the DOLE Region III immediately revoked the association’s registration.
Through the efforts of supportive Church groups like Urban Missionaries (UM-AMRSP) and the National Secretariat on Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA JP), the SAMAHAN certificate is reinstated by the Office of National Director of DOLE-BLR last September 2010.
The alarming return of fatalities and serious injuries from preventable accidents and maltreatment by Korean superiors (with deliberateness unheard of in prior incidents) as well as unclean or sometimes stale and maggot-laden food at the canteen; the workers wrote several letters to the management included in this letter is the demand to reinstate the sixty-nine (69) illegally dismissed union and SAMAHAN members.
The workers rejoiced when the management without answering the association’s letter for a dialogue; started to fix their food, provide uniforms and safety gadgets such as: safety shoes, and goggles, gas mask and helmet to some employees. Yet, in two days time the workers are back to the old cycle: stale food, poor quality equipment and worn-out uniforms; followed by four consecutive accidents that resulted in the death of two workers last April 8 to 15, 2011.
In a bid to show their growing concern and alarm that the shipyard will once again be their graveyard the workers held lunch break noise barrage on the eve of May 1 and on May 26 they wrote a follow-up letter to the management.
The demands of the group are simple: create a committee between the Hanjin management and the workers representative from SAMAHAN to jointly resolve the following:
Alfie Alipio-President(SAMAHAN)0930 1870 800
Joey Gonzales-Secretary- 0907 8320 email@example.com
Precy Dellomes (MAKABAYAN)0905 3652 391 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ernesto Arellano (President) (NUBCW–BWI) – 0922 8355 685 and Tess Borgonios – 0917 8256 954 email@example.com
Subic, Zambales - “Shipbuilding is a high risk job; laxity on safety measures turns a shipyard into a gravely dangerous zone” this is the statement of Alfie Alipio, President of Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard (SAMAHAN) in response to the accident that occurred yesterday at the Subic Shipyard or PHILSECO a shipbreaker company after a portion of a scaffold collapsed claiming the lives of five Pinoy workers while injuring six others.
“This horrible accident puts into the limelight the struggle for workplace safety of the Filipino workers in HANJIN’s Subic shipyard,” said Precy Dagooc, secretary general of labor center Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN). Adding that, “if this accidents could happen in a company (PHILSECO) that strictly implements health and safety rules how much more in HANJIN a South Korean shipbuilding giant whose laxity on health and safety implementation caused for the death of 4 workers out of 28 serious accidents in the last five months.
It can be recalled that last October 4, 2011 the Commission on Human Rights called for a dialogue with the management of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Phils. Inc. (HHICPI), the Task Force Hanjin headed by the Region III labor department, SAMAHAN and the Church Labor Conference.
The initial dialogue exposed a wide gap in health and safety implementation, the labor department’s leniency in compelling HANJIN to comply in Philippine and internationally recognized labor laws such as the right to workplace safety, right to self-organization and collective bargaining agreement.
“The rise of work-related deaths and the lack of financial support to the families of the victims is also a growing concern,” noted Alipio, “last May 27 another worker Aries Ariel Aquillo died from multi organ malfunction his family only received a Php 2, 000 donation from the HAnjin management.”
MAKABAYAN alongside the Church Labor Conference demands onto P.Noy to bring justice to the Filipinos, uphold human dignity and save the lives of the 21,000 shipbuilders; HANJIN must comply to Philippine labor laws. ###
Recognize and protect women’s rights in production and reproduction!
On this day, we reaffirm…“a woman’s place is in the struggle…”
Greetings to all women in the struggle… Let us stay strong, militant and beautiful!
Kaisa Ka North Luzon March Rally focus on reproductive health and rights, anti-violence against women and for protection of women in production and reproduction
March 8, 2011, Baguio City, Philippines
Fight for Democracy!
Struggle for Justice for Victims of Political Killings,
Forced Disappearances, and Torture!
Political repression knows no bounds. Last December 10, 2010, on the very day of commemorating the 62nd year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights defenders themselves became victims of repression.
Human rights activists in Bataan and Zambales gathered separately on that day to reaffirm their commitment, review the state of human rights in their provinces and map out plans of action for the promotion and defence of human rights. Elements of the PNP in both provinces disrupted their peaceful gathering. In Bataan, intelligence operatives of the 303rd Provincial Mobile Group, headed by a certain Police Officer Gamboa, forced themselves into the gathering and took pictures of the conference participants. The disruption interfered with the planned activity for the day. Meanwhile, in Zambales, armed elements of the Zambales PNP also gate-crashed into the Zambales gathering. Later they tried to stop the torch parade for human rights by grabbing placards and blocking the road. But the persistence of the human rights defenders foiled the harassment but nevertheless the police elements have displayed utter disregard of the freedom of assembly and expression.
Both incidents underscore the prevailing state of human rights in most provinces in the country. Despite government pronouncements of its adherence to democracy, political repression reigns and the climate of terror persists. Communities known for active political engagements are subjected to continuous harassments, in various forms and manners. The more common, among others, include -- arbitrary police/army demands or “invitations” on individuals to report to the camps; security forces’ demands for accommodation into private homes at night time; mobile army or police teams announcing names of barrio folk in their “order of battle”; the unending receipt of letters with enclosed black ribbon or bullet; and, announcement of intended “visits” to homes of leaders of people’s organizations.
Such threats and intimidations, which are almost daily occurrences, continuously refresh the reign of terror from 2001-2007 marked by widespread extra-judicial killing and forced disappearance, illegal arrest, detention and torture of activists and other politically active individuals that included journalists, lawyers, doctors, priests, pastors, a Bishop and a host of leaders of cause-oriented mass organizations. Not one of these cases is yet solved and the perpetrators are roaming freely. These are despite the shelved findings both by the Melo Commission and the Special UN Raporteur, Philipp Alston that there are strong grounds to indict, for multiple extra-judicial killing, the notorious, now retired and free, former party list congressman and defeated 2010 senatorial candidate, Gen. Jovito Palparan and his “special” unit.
Though Palparan retired, but after being given special honors by Gloria Macpagal-Arroyo in her 2007 state of the nation address (SONA), the killings continued. The honors given the notorious general signified extra-judicial political killing, forced disappearance, illegal arrest and torture were state policies.
The killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and torture persisted until August 2010 as far as documented cases in Central Luzon cite. Among the recent killings the more staggering were the killing of arrested two suspected rebels in Bataan on May 2, 2009 and subsequently the theft of their entombed cadavers in the early morning of November 11, 2009. On June 2, 2010 three siblings, the Milaflores brothers, were picked-up and killed in Candelaria, Zambales and were passed off as rebels killed by the PNP Provincial Mobile Group personally commanded at that instance by Zambales PNP Provincial Director, Col. Rafael Santiago. Over one month after the inaugural of Noynoy Aquino 5 suspected rebels were arrested in San Fernando, Pampanga on August 3, 2010 and tortured by the arresting unit, the Pampanga PNP Provincial Mobile Group under the command of Col. Mudzgani Mukaram. Later on August 19, 2010 a young man of Guagua, Pampanga who had been a political activist was abducted.
With this nightmarish backdrop, the continuing threats and harassments done almost at will by the military, police and other state security forces constitute continuing repression of the people’s political and democratic rights. Most excruciatingly these cause lingering and protracted mental and psychological torture not only of individuals but of whole communities.
The mere but prolonged presence of combat forces of both the military and police that indiscriminately establish detachments inside areas of residence and places of economic and social activities such as markets, barangay halls, chapels and school premises not only keep the reign of terror present but constitute continuing state repression of the people. The climate of fear gripping the people underscores there is no freedom, no democracy. Fear instilled on the people by the AFP, PNP and other state security forces reduce the people to passively bear the trampling of their democratic and political rights and never speak out even their just and legitimate grievances and demands.
It is of great historical irony that these are happening under a new administration that has repeatedly proclaimed “respect for human rights” and advocacy for democracy. These are but empty pronouncements and bloody insult on the victims, their organizations and communities who have been longing for justice. These are meaningless until justice is rendered to the victims and the people with the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.
We call on the people, direct and indirect victims of repression alike, to unite on the cause for justice and democracy. We call on everyone concerned with upholding the democratic and political rights of the people to give support to the victims. Let us put up the challenge especially before the civilian government, legal and judicial authorities and particularly before the President of the Republic, being also the commander-in-chief, to exercise the principles of “people’s sovereignty”; “justice, freedom and democracy”; and, “civilian authority over the military”. Let us also put the challenge before the military and police institutions to subscribe to these principles.
Let us, in various forms of actions, air and pursue certain urgent demands such as:
Militant members of Kilusan (KPD), clad in black, chained, and with placards bearing HR issues, march along Session Road and major thoroughfares in Baguio City to commemorate Human Rights Day and to dramatize its demand: “No to mining and militarization, yes to life and to a humane society.”
“We demand justice for all HR victims. Maguindanao massacre is just the tip of the iceberg.” This was the statement of Kilusan North Luzon’s Secretary General Jim Pag-a.
After President Aquino’s first 100 days in Malacanang and up to the present, Pi-noy did not mention any concrete plan to help stop and end human rights violations in the country. Instead, Aquino even extended Oplan Bantay Laya, the counter insurgency program of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that resulted in extra-judicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances.
Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) is still operational. The government pursues its anti-people policies: demolition of vendors and urban poor, LGU-backed illegal fishing, contractualization of labor, pro-mining stance of the Aquino regime displacing peasants and indigenous peoples on their own homeland, political killings and torture – resulting in environmental destruction and violation of human rights.
“This is a total sellout; the Private Partnership Program of Aquino is nothing but a scheme to serve foreign interest, investors are tax exempt passing this burden to workers and the general public “ Jim Pag-a lamented.
Northern Luzon remains a place of injustices brought about by capitalist plunder and exploitation.
We demand our government officials to stand with the people calling for the termination of all unequal ties we have with the US.
Kilusan demands the government to uphold and live by the real definition of human rights and serve its cause: to guard the civil and political rights of the people. Kilusan also demands a government free from slavery – US slavery, and a society with a just, humane and pro-people policies.
Clad in black and red, with lighted candles and placards demanding for the termination of VFA, members of Kilusan march along Session Road to commemorate today’s National Hero’s Day.
“We can not compromise sovereignty and national patrimony in exchange for few goodies. It’s a shame to serve US war of aggressions in exchange for few dollars.” This was the statement of Kilusan North Luzon’s Secretary General Jim Pag-a.
The VFA already resulted to series of violations and abuses to Filipinos, including the rape of Filipino women. There have been recorded cases of injuries and death caused by live munitions during war exercises since 2000.
“In the light of the intensifying conflict between North Korea and South Korea, the United States could obligate the Philippines to support US troops and South Korean troops in its looming war against North Korea,” Jim Pag-a adds. This is made possible by the Mutual Defense Treaty we have with the US. MDT and VFA are unequal treaties that put the Philippines in a very disadvantaged and precarious situation. We demand the Aquino government to prove its pro-people stance and terminate the VFA and end all unequal ties between the US and the Philippines.
Since the signing of the VFA, the Philippine ports were opened to US troops, visiting or otherwise. This affront to our sovereignty is accepted by the Philippine government in exchange for a few military aids like obsolete choppers and C-120 planes, civic projects like road construction, school buildings and medical missions.
In 1992, due to the sustained and intensified people’s protest, the Philippine legislators were forced to terminate the US military bases agreement. In 2000, the Estrada regime signed the VFA.
Kilusan considers the VFA as instrument of US neocolonialism and to maintain its control in the Pacific. Kilusan lauds Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s determination in her call to terminate the RP – US Visiting Forces Agreement. Likewise, we call on our legislators to take the same stand.###
Call for Support and Solidarity with Hanjin Workers
We, the National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA), Urban Missionaries-AMRSP and the Social Action Center of Zambales, are one in recognizing that our government needs to entice foreign investors to help propel our country’s economy so as to provide employment opportunities for job-seeking Filipinos to support their families. However, we cannot compromise and allow our laws, social policies and workers’ rights to be violated and desecrated over investments. Labor takes priority over capital.
We are glad to know that Hanjin, a Korean conglomerate, the 4th largest ship building facility in the world, chose to invest in Subic, Zambales in 2006 through its Philippine counterpart, the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Incorporated (HHIC-Philippines). Considered as the biggest foreign direct investment project in the region and in the country today with an investment of $1.7 Billion, we believe that HHIC could contribute much to our economy. Why not? “It has employed 17,000 workers” as of January 9, 2010. Accordingly, since 2007, it exported fourteen (14) vessels worth $60 million dollars each on the minimum (http://www.gmanews.tv/story/181150/hanjin). Obviously, such enormous financial capability is a treasure to our unstable economy and a great help to address the unemployment problem in our country.
However, we are alarmed by various reports of abuses and issues:
1. Hazardous working environment;
3. Labor rights violations;
4. Contractualization; and
5. Low wages.
During our visits and dialogue with the workers, we have learned that they were slapped, kicked, boxed back-handed, and struck on their heads or hard hat by Korean managers. They work on contractual basis and some of them have contract periods of five to ten years. Their salary is far less than what the company promised to them and too far less than their South Korean counterparts.
We are equally alarmed by the series of accidents and deaths in the workplace due to hazardous working environment and lack of personal protection equipments. Since 2006, a total of 27 workers died, resulting from accidents at the Hanjin facility were documented. These exclude cases of injuries and deaths that have been hidden by the company before the public. In fact just recently, a number of workers were brought to the hospitals because they were electrocuted.
Reports of these incidents prompted Senator Pia Cayetano to file a resolution “directing the appropriate Senate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alarming number of reported cases of deaths of Filipino workers at the Hanjin shipyard in Subic Bay Freeport (P.S. RES No 807).” The Senate Labor Committee chaired by Senator Jinggoy Estrada together with Senator Pia Cayetano conducted an investigation on the reported alarming series of accidents. After the Senate investigation Sen. Jinggoy Estrada urged SBMA Administrator Armand Arezza through a media interview “to strictly regulate the operations of the South Korean firm”. The Senator added that “Filipino workers are dying because of the apparent careless disregard to safety of Hanjin officials. SBMA should protect our workers” (http://www.gmanews.tv/largevideos/related/jinggoy-estrada-on-accupational-hazards-at-hanjin-shipyard).
Estrada, “in his on-site inspection on Hanjin shipyard last Feb. 5, 2009 identified some safety and employment concerns of the laborers after he personally persuaded them to speak up on their working condition. Among his observations were: 1. Only two doctors (one general practitioner, one dentist) are on duty daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. after 5:00pm shift, no doctor is in the clinic; 2. Not all workers wear their helmets while at work; 3. Some workers wear dilapidated shoes. The senator even saw ones who wear “safety shoes” only banded together with green electrical tape; 4. Some workers complain they do not have insurance; 5. Some canals are left open; 6. Workers complain they work even on Sundays, without proper compensation. Other say they are underpaid, receiving only Php 303, instead of the minimum of the Php 310 wage rate” (http://www.senjinggoyestrada.com/index.php/articles/view/151.html)
Based on these, HHIC clearly violates our law especially on Occupational Health and Safety (Article 162 of the Philippine Labor Code and DOLE Memorandum Circular No. 2 Series of 1998). HHIC also violated the security of tenure (Art. 279) of the Labor Code. But instead of rescuing our workers, the previous government chose to pay no heed to the cry of our workers. It is very disheartening to note that the high government officials in the previous administration allowed HHIC to violate our laws and abuse the rights of our Filipino workers because they have stakes in the company. This would explain perhaps why HHIC seems untouchable and has no fear to violate our laws that even the governor, mayors and other local officials cannot go inside the shipyard without approval from higher company officials.
Our hearts bleed for the Hanjin workers, who continue to experience harassments and violations of their rights. The repressive and oppressive treatments of HHIC on our workers should be stopped. Hanjin employers should be reminded that their investment does not give them the right to disrespect our laws much more to degrade our workers.
We urge all peace-loving Filipinos and advocates for justice to rally behind Hanjin workers. Let us support Hanjin workers’ call for humane treatment and safe working environment. Let us exact accountability from those and among government officials and agencies to pursue their investigation and see to it that HHIC is complying with the results and recommendation of Senate Labor Committee. We need to unite ourselves and strongly denounce South Korean employers in HHIC and demand them to observe and respect Philippine laws.
Let us always remind ourselves that human dignity and rights flowing from it have always been of paramount concern of our Christian faith. The basis of this concern is the simple truth of our creation unto the image of God which demands us to respect and love our fellow human persons as we are all equal before Him. It is therefore, imperative for every one of us to work for human dignity. And working for human dignity is simply providing every person the opportunity to work and grow into the fullness of life.
In solidarity with the workers,
MOST REV. BRODERICK PABILLO, D.D.
Chairman, National Secretariat for Social Action
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
470 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila
firstname.lastname@example.orgFR. HANIVAL G. BRUCELAS
Director, Social Action Center of Zambales
DANIEL SANTIAGO III
Chairperson, Urban Missionaries
Association of Major Religious Superiors
in the Philippines
70 Main Horseshoe Drive, 1112 Quezon City
For your expression of solidarity, please write to:
(kindly furnish us a copy of your letter)
President Simeon Benigno Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, San Miguel, Manila
Mrs. Rosalinda Baldoz
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment
7th Flr. DOLE Building,
Muralla St. Corner Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
Manila 1002, Philippines
Fax/Tel: +632 527 3494
Hon. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
Direct line No.: 521-3310
Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue
UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada
Chairperson, Labor, Employment and Human Resource Development
Rm. 602, 6th Floor, GSIS Building
Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Hon. Emil L. Ong
Chairperson, Labor and Employment Committee
3/F Annex Building, House of Representatives
Hon. Armand Arezza
Administrator and Chief Executive Officer
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
Bldg. 229, Waterfront Road
SBF 2, Olongapo City