Death of Hanjin worker puts pressure on Senate to pass pro-worker OSH bill now —KMU

The death of one worker and injuries to several others in an accident on May 12 at the Korean shipyard construction company Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) Philippines should be the impetus needed for the Senate to pass a pro-worker occupational safety and health (OSH) bill, said national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

Workers led by KMU marched to the Senate on Monday to call for justice for the Hanjin victims, and to urge legislators to junk and replace the watered-down version of the OSH bill passed in February this year, which relies on self-inspection and voluntary compliance with safety standards.

The protest was timed to coincide with the meeting of the Senate’s Bicameral Conference Committee (Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development) to discuss the existing Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act, which lacks key provisions that would criminalize OSH violations and ensure mandatory inspection of workplaces.

“The death and injuries to Hanjin workers was a direct result of the company’s gross OSH violations, its failure to comply with occupational safety and health standards,” said KMU vice-president Lito Ustarez. “We condemn the government for turning a blind eye to these anti-worker practices.”

The four Hanjin victims fell from a scaffolding at the shipyard on May 12. All were hospitalized, and one died from internal injuries. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered Hanjin subcontractor Binictican I-Tech Corp. to stop work after the accident.

“Hanjin’s reliance on subcontracting is intended to decrease its liability in the event of a workplace accident, but a stronger OSH law would ensure that Hanjin is punished for its criminal negligence and mistreatment of workers,” Ustarez said.

KMU offered condolences to the families of the victims of the Hanjin accident, and vowed to push the Duterte administration to ensure justice for the Hanjin workers, accountability for Hanjin management, and the passage of a genuine and effective OSH bill.

“We demand an immediate and thorough labor standards inspection of the whole premises of Hanjin, and fair compensation for the victims of the accident as well as all workers who will be affected by the stop-work order,” Ustarez said.