Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

8,000 workers receive bonus for building 1st cargo ship

Acknowledging the efforts of its 8,000 Filipino workers, a Korean shipbuilding company gave them cash bonuses hours before the MV Argolikos, the first container vessel built at the firm’s shipyard in Zambales, sailed out for the Xiamen port in China on Friday night.

The bonus, amounting to P15 million, was distributed by Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc. after President Macapagal-Arroyo left the shipyard at past noon Friday.

Ms Arroyo was given the honor of naming the $60-million, 41,000-ton ship that the Greek company Dioryx Maritime Corp. commissioned. The vessel was hailed as the largest container ship ever built in the Philippines.

“It’s true,” Jong Sup Shim, HHIC Philippines president, told the Inquirer when reached through his mobile phone on Monday to confirm the bonuses given to the firm’s employees.

Jong begged off from giving details, saying the “internal reward system” need not be given so much media attention.

Five workers reached separately through text messages said the bonus amounted to P1,000, P2,000 and P5,000, depending on their tasks in building the 258.9-meter long vessel.

“It was Hanjin’s way of expressing gratitude because that was the first ship ever made by Filipinos in the Philippines,” said a company official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

He said the bonus amounted to between P1,000 and P4,000.

In the ship-naming ceremony, Ms Arroyo praised Filipino workers thrice, earning the loudest applause from them when she said, “It is a display of our countrymen’s skills and work ethics. You are not only good, you’re also hard working and caring.”

She did not tackle safety concerns – a matter that Filipino workers have raised to local officials following a string of deaths and injuries at the shipyard and at a nearby area where the second dock is being built.

Many of the deaths, tallied by Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso at not less than 27 since early 2006, had happened at the construction site where 6,000 workers from 43 Korean and Filipino subcontractors are hired.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza said the work of at least 19 subcontractors had been suspended until these pass the safety tests being done by the SBMA and the Department of Labor and Employment.

In a statement last week, Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel said Ms Arroyo’s visit “betrayed the memory of Filipino workers who died in the shipyard because of dangerous working conditions.” By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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1 Comments:

  • We have high regards for the congresswoman representing Akbayan but we just could not agree when she said that President Arroyo betrayed the workers by gracing the occasion of inaugurating the first ship made by Hanjin shipbuilders. It was a real pride and honor for this new generation of workers - a new breed of shipbuilders - to have completed a ship ahead of schedule and performed way beyond expectations.

    For the highest official of the land to have commended this feat is an honor that we wish to cherish for the rest of our lives, its so unconsiderate for the congresswoman to have used the death of our co-workers and made such unti-climactic remarks.

    We are the group of welders that completed the PGMA Scholarship for Work Program, while we are not saying that we are supporters of the president . . May utang ng loob po kami sa naturang programa ng Presidente at ni Mayor Bong Gordon.

    We hope that our countrymen understand that this is a major project and that there are safety and employees' welfare issues that needs to be ironed out. The employees have just completed electing its officers who will represent the workers' concerns last Sunday during a General Assembly at Subic Dream Plaza. While the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority have on its final stages the plan to put up a Safety Office and an Employees Welfare Office in Hanjin Shipyard premises to immediately address worker's concerns.

    We are experiencing growing pains and we ask that we be given time to adjust.

    We appreciate your concerns and wish to thank you for it.

    We ask for your support, we want Subic Bay to be the "Home of the World's Best Shipbuilders."

    By Anonymous Welders, at 7/08/2008 11:36 AM  

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