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Justice for the Victims of the Keppel Shipyard Incident_

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									Justice for the Victims of the Keppel Shipyard Incident!
MWAP statement on the death of 5 in the Keppel Shipyard incident
8 October 2011

Reference: Reden Alcantara
           Secretary General
           0928-2482211


The Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) – an alliance of workers in the
metal industry including automotive, electronics, shipbuilding, mining and steel –
expresses its deepest condolences to the family and relatives of the victims of the
industrial incident in Keppel Subic Shipyard. To them we say: We understand your grief
over the loss of your loved ones. We are with you in this time of sorrow.

Media reports said five (5) workers were crushed to death and eight (8) more were
injured when a 42-ton elevated ramp fell and pinned down the workers. Unconfirmed
reports from the unionists in the area, however, say there are more than 5 deaths in this
incident.

We strongly condemn the management of Keppel Subic Shipyard for its lack of
mechanisms ensuring occupational health and safety and protecting the lives of its
workers. Keppel boasts of “zero accident” in the workplace but workers say that
accidents have occurred in the past but were not reported in the mainstream media.
Keppel’s “zero acccident” claim is therefore a lie.

This incident calls our attention to the fact that workers’ safety and welfare are being
sidelined in favor of transnational companies’ ever-continuing drive to earn super-
profits.

It is ironic that the incident in Keppel happened at the very same time that the world is
observing the World Day for Decent Work. While the Keppel incident was unfolding, a
worker in Philex Mines was also trapped when a cave collapsed due to loosened soil.
This accident again highlights the dangers of precarious work which is widespread in the
country. Workers who are in dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs are often at the risk of
accidents and are gambling with their lives while working.

Keppel’s underhanded tactics

The Keppel management refused investigators entry to the site. Even Subic Mayor Jay
Khonghun was not allowed to enter the shipyard allegedly because the company is
under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. This confirms what
many workers in the country’s economic zones and industrial enclaves have been
saying: that the PEZA has its own laws and regulations that are different from, and
indeed contrary to, Philippine labor laws.

We also gathered reliable reports that the management has offered “financial
assistance” in exchange for the silence of the families. Reportedly, two of the victims’
families have been given P10,000 each (around USD 230) and were asked to sign quit
claims.

We condemn the Keppel management for its underhanded tactics. It doesn’t even show
an ounce of respect and sympathy for its workers. It uses this dire situation to further
belittle the victims’ families who are in extreme need of assistance with the loss of their
loved ones.

A wake-up call for the Aquino government

We call on Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III not to turn a blind eye on
this matter. We hope that it won’t dismiss the Keppel incident as yet another “isolated
case” of “an accident.”

This is not the first incident that happened in the shipyard industry. Over 40 workers
have already died in Hanjin Shipyard, also in Subic. Yet, up to now, justice has not been
served to the victims of these industrial accidents and their families. The company is
given free rein to operate and conduct its death-dealing “normal business”.

We hope the Aquino government takes this incident as a wake-up call – that it must
uphold the safety and welfare of workers over the interest of capitalists to boost
profits. It must prioritize the well-being of Filipino workers – we who toil night and day
for the country’s progress, and we who must not be used as sacrificial lambs in the
government’s drive of luring foreign investors into the country.

Our calls

Today, we raise our voices in asking for justice for the victims of the industrial accident
in Keppel. MWAP, together with other groups, will conduct a fact-finding mission in the
site to investigate the incident.

The following is our list of demands to Keppel and the Philippine government:
a. Conduct a speedy, thorough and independent investigation on the incident.
b. Attain justice to the workers and their families. Hold the Keppel
management accountable for this incident.
c. Give proper indemnification to the victims.
d. Uphold workers’ safety before capitalists’ profits.
e. Investigate Hanjin and other shipyards where workers have been dying at work.
f. Review PEZA’s jurisdiction over the country’s special economic zones and make it
conform with existing labor laws.
We of the MWAP will bring this issue to the international community, especially to the
25-million strong International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) of which we are a
member. We will urge fellow workers in the IMF to send protest letters to the Keppel
management and demand justice for the victims.###

								
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