27 December 2012

DOLE, SBMA sign deal to protect Subic Freeport workers

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) vowed to ensure the safety and safeguard the health of workers in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone amid complaints of abuse, mistreatment and even death of workers contracted by Korean company Hanjin operating inside the area.

Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority [SBMA] signed the memorandum of agreement last week that “maintains industrial peace and enforce labor and occupational safety and health standards in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.”

 “I am pleased of this convergence of the DOLE and the SBMA to strengthen and sustain industrial peace, promote compliance with labor and occupational safety and health OSH standards, and capacitate SBFZ locator-employers and workers, all for the purpose of enhancing competitiveness, productivity, and growth in private enterprises which are the generators of decent jobs,” said Baldoz immediately after signing the MOA.

The agreement allows DOLE to regularly conduct inspection inside the SBMA to ensure compliance to the labor standards and occupational safety and health standards as well as industrial peace in the SBFZ.

The agreement also requires SBMA to submit to the rules of DOLE in labor dispute settling mechanism.

“In instances of notices of strike and lockout and preventive mediation cases, the DOLE, through the NCMB, shall provide conciliation and mediation services in accordance with the existing rules and regulations in the handling of labor disputes,” the agreement stated.

“Both parties shall also use social dialogue, such as consultation meetings among workers and locators, to further achieve industrial harmony in the free port zone,” the agreement said.

Filipino workers staged protests inside the SBMA amid complaints of abuse, mistreatment such as lack of meals and rest for those employed by Korean shipbuilder Hanjin that caused sickness and even death due to accidents by workers.

The complaints prompted the labor department’s cancellation of Hanjin’s permit to operate until all the issues on settlement and fair labor rules have been addressed.

The MOA agreement also requires SBMA to “educate” foreign employers on Filipino work culture and values, on labor laws, rules and regulations, and other labor and employment legislation, as well as on DOLE conciliation-mediation programs to promote better labor-management relations.

The SBMA is the operating and implementing arm of the BCDA for the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which has now become one of the country’s premier tourism, industrial, and commercial center in the region. (Estrella Torres, BusinessMirror)