Monday, June 20, 2011

PM challenges PNoy to protect labor rights at Hanjin

Press Release
June 20, 2011

The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) challenged President Benigno Aquino III to uphold and protect workers rights at the giant Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales as complaints mounted of violations of labor and safety standards. Dozens of members of PM and the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) joined the Church-Labor Conference, an alliance of labor and religious organizations that is co-chaired by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, in a rally this morning at Mendiola in Manila.

“The Hanjin shipyard is a graveyard of workers. While capitalists are scrimping on protection for workers and the government is sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace. Hanjin’s crooked path must be set straight by PNoy. Instead of beating war drums over the Spratlys it is better that PNoy wage war for workers rights at Subic,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

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.

“PALEA supports our brothers in Hanjin who are seeking the redress of the same grievances as Philippine Airlines employees, which is contractualization and union busting. From airlines to shipyards, contractualization is wrecking havoc on the working and living conditions of workers. Ang laban ng manggagawa ng Hanjin ay laban ng PALEA,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.

PM also called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms by the government in response to at least 26 deaths at the Hanjin shipyard and the rampant contractualization at the shipyard. “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,” Magtubo claimed.

He added that “PNoy’s government 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.” Some 21,000 laborers work in the Hanjin shipyard but just a few hundred are claimed by the giant multinational as its employees since the all almost are hired by 19 subcontractors.

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