May 3, 2014
Just two days after the commemoration of Labor Day, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) challenged President Benigno Aquino III to uphold and protect workers rights at the giant Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales as another worker died last May 1 in a workplace accident. “PNoy had once personally thanked Hanjin for its PhP24 billion investment. Now he should personally act on the 37th reported death at the shipyard,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.
Randy Gacos, 29, a fit-up welder at the shipbuilding facility of HanjinHeavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., suffered severe burns while working in the erection section of the shipyard on Wednesday and then died on Thursday night while being treated at a local hospital.
Magtubo added that “The Hanjin shipyard is a graveyard of workers. While capitalists are scrimping on protection for its work force 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 West Philippine Sea it is better that PNoy wage war for workers rights at Subic.”
“PALEA supports our brothers in Hanjin. From airlines to shipyards, contractualization is wrecking havoc on the working and living conditions of workers. The promotion of contractual employment is the policy of government as exposed by the Office of the President decision on outsourcing at Philippine Airlines. Of the 3,000 hired last Labor Day at the job fairs, we ask the Department of Labor, how many are for permanent positions and how many are for contractual employment? Ang laban ng manggagawa ng Hanjin ay laban ng PALEA,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.
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 rest are hired by 19 subcontractors.
PM also called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms by the government in response to latest death at the Hanjinshipyard 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.”