We are glad that the fact-finding mission conducted by independent NGOs and a workers’ alliance were able to ferret out the truth about the 07 October incident in Keppel Shipyard: That what caused the deaths and injuries is the Keppel Shipyard management’s violation of health and safety standards in the workplace. The five workers died and the seven workers were injured because the heavy tower supporting the ship’s ramp collapsed on the workers. The said tower was wobbly and not fixed to the ground, it was lacking in weight, and was different from the more stable support that was used before.
We condemn the management of Keppel Shipyard for violating health and safety standards in the workplace and thereby causing the death of five workers and the injuring of seven others. We call on the Aquino government to immediately investigate the 07 October incident in Keppel Shipyard and verify the reliable findings of the fact-finding mission conducted by independent NGOs and a workers’ alliance. We also call on it to immediately mete out punishment to the Keppel management for the latter’s crime against its workers.
The 07 October Keppel Shipyard incident calls attention to capitalists’ widespread practice of scrimping on the observance of health and safety standards in the workplace in order to boost their profits. It calls attention to capitalists’ utter disregard for workers’ lives and safety and their overriding drive to rake in bigger and bigger profits. The death and injury of workers are the extreme illustrations of capitalists’ disrespect for workers’ lives – on top of starvation wages, inhumane workloads, lack of job security, and violations of workers’ rights.
The government of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is also guilty of disrespecting workers’ lives and rights. Big foreign and local capitalists can easily violate workers’ rights and labor standards because we have a government like Aquino’s. When workers call for a significant wage hike, we are given mere crumbs. When we oppose mass layoff and contractualization, the government takes the side of the capitalist. When we exercise our right to protest and hold strikes, the government assumes jurisdiction and we are violently suppressed.
What happened in Keppel is also happening in Hanjin and other companies in the country. It calls attention to the necessity of rethinking and changing the government’s policy of attracting investors, especially foreign ones, to set up business in the country. What happened in Keppel is a result of such a policy. In order to entice investors to come into the country, workers’ wages are pressed down, job security is done away with, workers’ rights are violated, and health and safety standards in the workplace are happily ignored.
Justice for the workers of Keppel Shipyard! Justice for the Filipino workers and people! Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson