Six workers crushed in shipyard in the Philippines
Five workers were immediately crushed to death and seven more injured when a 42-ton elevated ramp fell on workers at Keppel Subic Shipyard on October 7. Later the same day one of the seven injured workers died in hospital in Olongapo. The MWAP denounces lax safety standards.
PHILIPPINES: The killed workers were Cris Xander Papna, Jhay Lord Reyes, Glenn Miranda and Ronaldo Bagay, project employees of Keppel Subic Shipyard, and Mark San Juan and Ronald Lara, from Garcia & Rocafor General Services (G&R), a subcontractor.
The Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) – an IMF affiliate uniting workers in the metal industry including automotive, electronics, shipbuilding, mining and steel – expressed its deepest condolences to the family and relatives of the victims of the accident.
The MWAP conducted a fact-finding mission at the site, and found irregularities in Keppel’s health and safety practices which caused the tragic incident. They were presented at a press conference on October 11 in Quezon City.
The steel tower ramp that fell on the workers was shaky, and lacked the usual 10-ton support. There was only one boom when the incident happened – a deviation from the common practice of using four booms when a ramp is repaired.
“We hold the management of the Keppel Shipyard responsible for non-implementation of mechanisms ensuring workers’ safety and lives. We call on the government to conduct a thorough investigation and help shed light on the real reasons and lessons of the incident,” said Reden Alcantara, MWAP secretary-general.
Accidents are common in the shipbuilding and shipyard industry. At the nearby Hanjin shipyard in Subic over 40 workers have died in industrial accidents. “The industry requires the highest standards of occupational health and safety due to the dangers inherent in it,” Alcantara said.
The workers’ alliance likewise called on the government to review the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s jurisdiction over the country’s special economic zones to make the PEZA at least conform with existing labor laws.
“We are alarmed by the fact that investigators and even Subic Mayor Jay Khonghun were initially denied entry to the company premises because it is under the jurisdiction of PEZA. Is Keppel so powerful as to have its own laws and regulations that are contrary to Philippine laws?” Alcantara asked.
The fact-finding mission’s initial findings will be presented to the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment to urge the body to conduct an investigation into the incident in aid of legislation.
Oct 12, 2011 – Rainer Santi