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NEWS RELEASE: Solon calls for justice for “Kentex 72”

16 May 2015 No Comment

NEWS RELEASE

15 May 2015

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09279220817)

 

Solon calls for justice for “Kentex 72”

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio L. Tinio today called for justice for the deaths of 72 workers in the May 13 fire at a footwear factory in Valenzuela City.

“The death of at least 72 workers in the Kentex factory fire is a national shame that has exposed the horrific and life-threatening conditions that many Filipino workers face on a daily basis,” said Tinio. “We condole with the families, condemn those responsible for the needless and preventable loss of life, and demand justice for the victims.”

“The working conditions in Kentex factory were inhumane—the workers labored 24/7 surrounded with foul-smelling chemicals, packed in an enclosed, nearly airless building,” said Tinio.  “According to reports, the building was full of fire hazards, with even welding works so close to these hazards, without adequate exits nor proper extinguishing devices.  No fire training, nor fire drills were conducted for the workers.  On top of all these, they were paid only P300 a day, or three-fifths of the minimum wage, and were not given social security benefits.”

“It appears that the ‘Kentex 72’ were victims of capitalist greed abetted and enabled by token enforcement of labor standards and lax to non-existent enforcement of fire safety laws.  This falls squarely on the shoulders of the national government and the Aquino administration, national government agencies, and the local government ” said Tinio.

Tinio noted that laws and regulations mandate municipal and city fire marshals (FMs) of the Bureau of Fire Protection, who are under the Department of the Interior and Local Governments, to routinely inspect establishments for fire hazards and require that each have enough exits and extinguishers to ensure the safety of persons inside them.  Local chief executives should not issue building permits without the fire safety inspections permits from FMs, and revoke existing ones for those in the blacklists or reported violators which FMs should issue yearly.

The Department of Labor and Employment, for its part, has enough powers under the Labor Code and its own rules to check compliance with labor standards laws like those on minimum wage, occupational safety and health conditions, and social security and health insurance benefits. “The fact that the DOLE issued Kentex a certificate of compliance with labor standards last September 2014 exposes the utter inadequacy of such certification and calls into question the DOLE’s whole system of monitoring and inspection,” said Tinio.

The legislator hoped that the workers’ deaths would provoke a groundswell of outrage and indignation and trigger a campaign for the improvement of the plight of workers, including conditions in the workplace. He is set to file a resolution calling for an immediate House investigation into the incident. #

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