Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Senate to probe Subic Hanjin deaths

Sen. Pia Cayetano has asked the Senate labor committee to investigate the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the labor department for the deaths of Filipino workers at the shipyard inside the Subic Bay Freeport since 2006.

“The Hanjin shipyard has virtually become a modern-day killing field, but has any Hanjin official been jailed or even charged in court?” Cayetano said in a statement on Friday following the deaths of Philip Mendoza and Jose Vener Gil on Nov. 20 and 26, respectively.

Pyeong Jong Yu, general manager of the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., did not reply when the Inquirer asked for comments.

Yu, in a Thursday interview, said 15 workers had died from work-related accidents while two others had died in traffic-related incidents in the shipyard in Subic, Zambales.

Malaria deaths

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso on Friday said 63 had died from accidents at the shipyard and malaria while living near the shipyard during the construction period.

“The deaths are the aftermath of the arrogant and impervious attitude of Hanjin. It’s acting like it’s beyond the clutches of the law,” Deloso said, referring to the company’s alleged refusal to be inspected by local authorities.

The People’s Task Force for Hanjin and Subic Bay Inc. counted at least 16 deaths as of June 2008.

Cayetano said she would not dispute that Hanjin has infused investments into the country and employed 13,000 Filipinos.

It employs 8,000 workers in the shipbuilding works and 5,000 others for the construction of a second shipyard. President Macapagal-Arroyo has issued an executive order directing all government departments to support Hanjin’s project at the Subic Bay Freeport and its other facility in Mindanao.

“But none of these can justify the authorities’ lack of conviction to punish those responsible and put a stop to the string of workers’ deaths at Hanjin,” Cayetano said.

Safety doubts

She said the deaths of Mendoza and Gil “raised doubts on the effectiveness of the [safety] measures supposedly undertaken, or if these are being implemented at all.”

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the agency welcomes the investigation.

“The SBMA and the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) have been working with Hanjin to ensure full compliance with labor and safety standards,” Arreza said.

He said the efforts include the accreditation of 39 subcontractors of Hanjin, the provision of protective equipment to workers and giving them a basic safety orientation lecture, installation of safety signs, and the deployment of roving teams that enforce safety standards.

Noel de Mesa, president of the Shipbuilders and Construction Workers Association, said the Senate probe should not only establish the violations of labor and safety standards but also confirm the maltreatment of Filipino workers by their Korean supervisors. By Tonette Orejas - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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  • It is about time that someone took an interest in the deaths at Hanjin. How many deaths will it take before someone gets involved? This is all about GREED and the use of cheap labor the Filipino workers give to Hanjin.

    Hanjin is making huge profits out of this shipyard at the expense of Filipino lives.

    Enough is enough.

    Close them down till Hanjin fixes their safety issues.

    By Blogger BarrioRunner, at 11/30/2008 10:29 AM  

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