Striking workers in a Korean company dispersed, 13 injured, 4 nabbed

06 February 2008 -- More than 100 policemen violently dispersed workers upon their formal declaration of strike in Korean-owned Hanjin Garments Incorporated in front of the Gatchalian Industrial Subdivision in Barangay Banay-Banay, Cabuyao, Laguna at 7:41AM today.The dispersal, which lasted for nearly 30 minutes, left 13 workers seriously injured while 4 detained.

Cabuyao Police Chief Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, refusing to negotiate with the workers, ordered the dispersal as soon as he arrived on scene at 7:13AM.

Detained at the Cabuyao Police Station are Hanjin union vice-president Christopher Capistrano, Erica Lee Balane, and Edison Alpiedam. While Gerald Daria, a worker from another garments factory who happened to pass by the strike area and was supposed to go to work at that time, was also collared and detained by the police.

Amy Capistrano, Hanjin worker and wife of the union vice-president, was among the 13 injured workers. She was beaten black-and-blue.

Also injured were Eva Occidental, Riza Adiaton, Lilibeth Ilaga, Marivic Cresidio, Marife Loyola, Rosalinda Esquelito, Meljun Aquino, Ivy Villanueva, Edwin San Jose, Arnel Vito, Ricardo Basagre, and Melchor Magtibay.

Indignation rally

At 11:15AM, Hanjin workers and their supporters marched to the Cabuyao Municipal Hall to condemn the recent incident. After holding a program, they proceeded to
the Cabuyao Police Station calling for the immediate release of the detained workers.

The workers, through their legal counsel, negotiated with the police. However, Bersaluna, himself, refused to release the detained workers.

"Hindi kami aalis dito hangga't hindi nila pinalalaya ang mga kasamahan namin (We will not leave until they free our detained comrades)," cried Romina Ibarrola,
spokesperson of independent union Aniban ng mga Manggagawang Inaapi sa Hanjin Garments (AMIHAN).

"Sobra-sobra na ang pasakit na ibinibigay nila sa aming mga manggagawa. Dahas at pagkukulong ba ang kailangan nilang isukli sa aming paghihirap ng 12 taonŠ sa aming kahilingan ng regularisasyon at pagpapatupad ng minimum wage? (They are inflicting too much pain on us workers. Should harassment and detention be the worthy price for our 12-year sacrificeŠ for our demands of regularization and the implementation of the minimum wage?)," continued Ibarrola.

Hanjin workers and supporting workers from other factories continue to mass-up in front of the police station. They vowed to hold a vigil and gather more support until the detained workers are released.

"We don't see any reason why the police should brutally disperse and detain these workers who only hold true and strongly to their demands as their defense. Hanjin management, the local government, and the police treated these workers as if they are animals and criminals," said Romeo Legaspi, chairman of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) or Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog.

"In the final analysis of right and reason, after a series of carnage these workers have to endure, it is the Hanjin management, local government, and the police who are rightful of the title brutes and criminals," concluded Legaspi.

Hanjin workers established their barricades and formally declared their strike this morning at 5:15AM, 13 days after launching their picket protest. Workers demanded for the reinstatement of dismissed workers, regularization, implementation of the minimum wage, and union recognition.

Korean nationals Jeong Kee Min and Mak Rae Min own Hanjin Garments which employs more than 1,000 contractual workers. The company exports to the US pants and suits with expensive brandnames such as Mossimo, Limited, Kohl's, Croft and Barrow, Elle, and Merona.

Romeo Legaspi, PAMANTIK-KMU Chairman
Mobile Number: +639293313189

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