SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: Restive workers of shipbuilding giant Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines (HHIC-Phil) here said they will go on strike if an agreement to hold a certification election for the recognition of the union fails.
Alyansa ng Manggagawang Pilipinong Organisado–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (AMAPO-TUCP) head Roberto Flores, whose group claim they were able to organize unions in all 18 sub-contractors of Hanjin, told The Manila Times a strike may happen soon.
Flores said of the 33,000 Hanjin workers spread over 18 subcontractors, some 30,000 have joined the union.
“Strike may happen. They [Hanjin] have committed many violations and there’s a very high percentage there will be a strike taking place,” he said.
Flores, in a text message to The Manila Times, said they have already filed a notice to strike at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).
Workers representatives and Hanjin management met on August 18 at the Labor office in Olongapo and again on August 25 regarding the holding of a certification election but no agreement was reached. Another meetings are set on September 5 and 6.
The workers want their union certified through an election to enable them to negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Hanjin management.
Hanjin reportedly agreed earlier to certify the union but wants to do this after a a year which AMAPO-TUCP strongly opposed demanding that a certification election be held within three months.
It was earlier agreed to hold the certification election on August 29 to 30, but Flores said Hanjin wants the
venue to be held at the Subic Gym inside the Subic Bay Freeport. However, AMAPO-TUCP insisted it should be within the vicinity of the workplace as provided by law.
Subic Gym is located in the central business district of the Freeport while Hanjin is located in Barangay Cawag at the Redondo Peninsula.
Hanjin workers have been complaining of mounting cases of alleged abuses by Korean foremen and supervisors, unfair labor practices, physical harm, and even sexual harassments on women employees.
A union official said these grievances and complaints that have not been acted upon, have swayed most Hanjin workers to seek the union’s help, especially in filing cases against some Hanjin officials.
The Manila Times tried to get a comment from Hanjin officials but a management employee said the certification election issue is up for discussion with the Department of Labor and Employment and other parties and has no connection with Hanjin.
Members of the media are reportedly barred from entering the shipyard facility in the wake of the workers’ issue.
Hanjin started operations in Subic Bay in 2006 and is now ranked as the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world.
Its operations at the shipbuilding facility, however, has been marked by at least 39 reported deaths and an undetermined number of injuries over the years even prompting a congressional inquiry in 2009.