Thursday, April 14, 2011

Labor party calls for labor enforcement reforms as another worker dies in Hanjin shipyard

Press Release
April 14, 2011

The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms in response to the death of another worker last Monday at the Hanjin shipyard in Subic. “The Hanjin shipyard is a graveyard of workers. While capitalists were scrimping on protection for workers and the Labor Department was sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

Alvin Dalunag, 31 years old, died while working as welder inside the Hanjin compound. He was the 25th reported workplace death in Hanjin since it began operations in 2006. PM lambasted the Korean-owned ship construction giant for cutting corners in occupational safety in order to raise profits and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the lax implementation of labor and safety standards.

He claimed that “Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards.”

“Under the regime of the DOLE’s self-assessment program, the number of labor inspectors have shrunk from around 240 to just 190 and the number of establishments inspected plummeted from 26,000 in 2004 to just 6,000 last year. Self-assessment means that the government is asking the wolf to guard the sheep. No wonder the sheep get slaughtered,” Magtubo criticized.

He recommended that “We propose that the DOLE deputize labor leaders as labor inspectors. In so doing the number of inspectors and inspections can be increase several fold overnight, enforcement can be strengthened immediately, and workers lives and limbs can be saved.”

Magtubo added that “DOLE must review Hanjin and its contractors for compliance not just with safety regulations but labor standards such as payment of minimum wages and benefits, observance of working hours and remittance of social security among others. Construction workers are among the most overworked yet underpaid of employees since they are generally unorganized.”

“The DOLE has again been caught sleeping on the job as in the case of the Eton construction accidents,” Magtubo said.

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