Security tightens at Hanjin shipyard over workers’ drug use

Randy Datu

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Security tightens at Hanjin shipyard over workers’ drug use
A consultant of the Korean shipbuilder at the Subic Freeport denies workers' claim that they use illegal drugs to stay awake during 24-hour shifts that they are made to take

SUBIC, Philippines – The shipyard of Korean firm Hanjin has tightened security in its facility here following the discovery of employees smuggling and using illegal drugs.

Illuminado Comandao, an official of Sushicor, a Hanjin subcontractor that supervises the work of other subcontractors, said some workers “try to hide [the drugs] in their packed food because the security guards of Hanjin usually do not inspect the food that they bring inside.”

Comandao said the management had investigated some workers and filed cases against them, but he did not give a number. 

Sources within the shipyard and the local police said, however, that the illegal drug problem within the shipyard has worsened. One factor they cited was Hanjin’s alleged policy of making workers do 24-hour shifts.

Some workers who spoke to Rappler but asked not to be named said these long shifts have “forced” some of them to use drugs just to stay awake. Not being alert on the job could result in death. 

Despite taking caution, however, some workers like Jerwein Lopera Labajan were reportedly pinned down by machines that they operated and died inside the Hanjin shipyard.

Jerwin, who was single, was the family breadwinner, and was said to be the 38th Hanjin worker who died since the shipyard began construction in 2006.

Pete Pinlac, chair of Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan, told the media that Labajan was “overworked” when the accident occurred inside the shipyard.

“How many workers must die for the government to realize that the safety of our workers is being compromised because of the cheap labor policy?” asked Pinlac, whose group helped organize workers in Hanjin.

Comandao said, however, that the workers’ explanation for their supposed drug use at work defied logic. He accused the workers of trying to justify the substance abuse.

“Of course, the work at Hanjin is hard, but they are not being forced to take overtime [work],” he said. 

He said Hanjin will be conducting random drug tests on workers this week and will use K9 dogs to detect illegal substances. – 

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