100 workers demand jobs, entry in troubled shipyard
SUBIC, Zambales — At least 100 workers on Friday picketed the gate of the debt-ridden Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines after they were barred from entering its shipyard here.
The workers had refused to sign the voluntary retrenchment program offered by the company’s management, said Efren Vinluan, president of Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard.
He said the workers were barred from reporting for work and their identification cards were not working as access passes anymore.
Vinluan said Hanjin management had been forcing the workers to agree to the voluntary retrenchment program.
March 31 deadline
But the workers demanded that they be put back to work, he said.
“We will wait here until the management talks to us. We will continue to fight for our rights,” Vinluan said.
Only 200 workers, who voluntarily resigned, were allowed to enter the shipyard’s premises, he said.
The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Hanjin officials for comment.
But Subickor, one of Hanjin’s subcontracting firms, issued a notice of closure to workers on Feb. 27, citing “financial losses and lack of orders for shipbuilding.”
The shutdown would take effect on March 31, the notice said.
In the same notice, the workers were assured that they would receive their salaries for March and separation pay.
On Jan. 8, Hanjin filed for corporate rehabilitation at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court to protect it from its creditors.
It owed $400 million from the country’s banks, on top of another $900 million borrowed from lenders in South Korea.
Since December last year, the company had laid off more than 7,000 workers and retained only 300 personnel, according to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
At its peak, Hanjin had a workforce of 30,000. It had offered a voluntary severance package for workers to cut costs. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT
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