Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Labor groups ask Korean government to take action on Hanjin’s labor rights violations in PH

29 June 2001

Labor groups belonging to an anti-contractualization group Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (Kontra), trooped to the Korean embassy in Makati City this morning to ask the Korean government to take immediate action on the growing number of employees’ deaths and accidents at Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, a South Korean owned shipyard located northwest of Manila.

“We urge the South Korean government to guide its shipbuilders operating abroad to strictly comply with safety regulations and other labor standards to avoid their shipyards being labelled as ‘graveyards of workers’ rights’ by the international labor community,” stated Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

Labor groups in the country are getting more incensed with the unabated cases of deaths and accidents at Hanjin, many of them reported and documented yet largely ignored by the company and government officials.  Aside from this, there are other major violations of labor standards at the shipyard that warrant immediate action from the government.

Miranda said the latest count puts the number of work related deaths at Hanjin to 31; 11 cases of maltreatment by Korean superiors; 63 illegal termination; and 20 illegal suspension. 

The giant shipyard also implements massive contractualization of its entire workforce, with 21,000 workers hired as contractual employees from 19 sub-contractors. It is the fourth largest ship-builder in the world, investing at least a billion dollars in the country. 

But the shipyard earned notoriety for its accident record and labor standard violations, prompting the Philippine Senate to conduct an inquiry.  The inquiry saw many lapses in safety and violated labor laws.  Unfortunately there was no sanction imposed on Hanjin.  Hence, accidents continued afterwards while strong-arm management rule reign upon its workers. Media coverage is also not allowed in the complex.

Miranda added that, “While we are not opposed to the entry of foreign investments in the country, the leniency extended towards Hanjin by the Philippine government should not be viewed by the Korean capitalists as a free ticket to maximum exploitation of Filipino labor.”

President Benigno Aquino III himself thanked Hanjin for investing some P24.2-B worth of investment in the country. 

“But that is no reason for the government to sleep on its job in enforcing safety and other labor standards in the country,” said Miranda. 

On July 3 the groups leading today’s rally will hold a “Caravan for Decent Jobs and Humane Working Conditions.” The caravan will proceed from Manila to Subic in order to highlight the dire plight of contractual workers especially in Hanjin.

The group said the government must review Hanjin and its contractors for compliance with safety regulations, payment of wages and benefits, observance of working hours, among others.

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