DOLE to assist in re-employing Hanjin workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — Approximately 3,800 shipyard workers may be left unemployed after the first quarter of the year.

This is due to the corporate rehabilitation filed by Korean shipbuilding company Hanjin Heavy Industries, which will employ the workers only until the end of March to finish constructing two large ships.

"Apart from ensuring that the would-be affected workers get benefits mandated under the Labor Code, we will also assist them in re-employment to other jobs such as in construction under the Build, Build, Build," said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a statement at a press conference Tuesday.

Bello said Hanjin's general contractor in shipbuilding, the Subic Shipbuilder Corporation (SuShiCor), has told the department that they will give the workers a separation pay equivalent to one month's salary per year of employment, pursuant to the Labor Code.

SuShiCor is one of 17 contractors that provide workers to Hanjin.

The DOLE Region 3 office and the Bureau of Local Employment are in charge of profiling the 3,800 workers to check their qualifications for future employment, ahead of a scheduled meeting between DOLE, the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Trade and Industry scheduled next week.

The government agencies will then decide how best to employ the would-be displaced workers.

"The DOLE's safety net and active labor market programs are also well in place should there be a need such as training, livelihood and entrepreneurship, emergency employment and other job-transition support mechanisms," Bello said.

Asked if the government would also assist Hanjin in its corporate rehabilitation, Bello echoed the sentiments of Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

"Mahirap siguro kasi wala namang capability ang gobyerno to engage in ship building. We'll leave that to the private sector," Bello told reporters.

[Translation: It might be hard because the government does not have the capability to engage in ship building.]

In an ambush interview last week, Secretary Lopez said the government will leave it to the private sector to assist the fallen shipbuilding giant.

"We're not in that business.  It's not in our policy to get into that business but there are a lot of private companies wanting to get in," Lopez said.

READ: Central bank says lenders' exposure to Hanjin 'negligible'

Banks that have lent Hanjin approximately $412 million are working together to weather the impact the corporate rehabilitation will have on their respective funds.