Sunday Mass for the Victims of the Kentex Fire,
Dialogue with Survivors and Relatives
■ Video Clips
San Juan de la Cruz Parish, Ugong, Valenzuela
May 17, 2015
Victims for identification by relatives
Photo by Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions. More photos here
Photos Photos by Arkibong Bayan,
Kilusang Mayo Uno, Jun Santiago and Tudla
as indicated by the filenames
JUSTICE FOR KENTEX WORKERS was formed
after survivors and relatives held a dialogue among themselves
and with various representatives from Gabriela, KMU, PCPR, Hustisya and BAYAN
On the Kentex Factory Fire
Statement of the fact-finding team
16 May 2015
Seventy-two (72) workers, many of whom were women, were burned to death and 20 more are still missing in the biggest factory fire that hit the Philippines – the fire that gutted the factory of Kentex Manufacturing Incorporated last May 13, 2015. The company, located along Tatalon Street in Barangay Ugong in Valenzuela City, manufactures rubber slippers for sale and distribution in various parts of the Philippines.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz claimed that the factory passed an inspection on compliance with general labor standards and occupational health and safety standards that was conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on September 2014. The Bureau of Fire Protection reportedly also gave the factory a fire safety inspection certification.
However, the fact-finding team which was composed of labor NGOs namely, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), and the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD), and the national labor center of Kilusang Mayo Uno, which visited the area on May 14, found glaring violations of standards pertaining to general labor conditions and to occupational health and safety. It is most likely that these violations caused the tragic and massive loss of lives in the recent fire.
These violations include:
→ Mishandling of the
chemical Super Seal, which is used as a rubber emulsifier. Survivors
of the fire whom the Team interviewed said that the fire started on the
ground floor of the two-storey building when the welding spatter from roll
up door being repaired by an outside contractor reacted with the chemical
that wasunsafely placed
on the factory’s floor and was not kept in a separate and safe stockroom.
This clearly violates Rule 1943.07 on storage of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards of 1989. The Rule provides that “(1) Significant quantities of commodities with fire hazards greater than ordinary combustible commodities shall be separated from the main bulk by fire walls.”
→ Absence of proper smoke and fire alarm and apparent absence of fire and safety drill among the workers. Survivors also noted that even when the ground floor was already filled with smoke, workers in the assembly line and the office staff at the second floor still continued working. They said the fire spread so quickly that they were trapped inside and there was no other way for them to go out except through the main door. They also recounted that they heard no fire alarm. They also claimed that workers in the second floor of the building were trapped as it was impossible for them to go through the door with such a strong fire coming from the building entrance. Workers who had been working for years in Kentex have not experienced any fire and safety drill conducted by the management. When asked about the Safety Officer, workers interviewed did not know if there was one.
→ Absence of fire exits. The factory compound had NO fire exits and there were only two gates, one is for people and the other is for delivery trucks. The factory windows are covered with steel grills and chicken wire which could not easily be destroyed even during emergencies. Witnesses said that workers at the second floor attempted to break the windows open until they could no longer be seen from the outside. Workers who were able to escape the compound even had to climb the walls at the back as the gate for delivery trucks was locked. Out of the more than 70 workers on the second floor, only four workers escaped by squeezing themselves through an opening and jumping out of the building.
With all these glaring and clear OHS violations of Kentex Manufacturing, how did the Department of Labor and Employment release an OHS compliance certificate to Kentex in year 2014? How can the lack of fire exits inside the workplace premise pass the evaluation conducted by DOLE inspectors? If these were pointed out during that inspection, corrective measures could have been implemented to ensure occupational safety of workers in Kentex and evade the loss of lives. The issuance of DOLE to Kentex Manufacturing, an OHS standards violator, as complying to OHS standards, makes DOLE primarily accountable to the deaths of the 72 workers in this tragedy. DOLE failed its role in ensuring that workers are protected and their lives are safe and secure inside the workplace.
Kentex Manufacturing Corporation is owned by Mr. Beato Ang and Mr. Ong King Guan. Apart from the clear violations of occupational health and safety standards, worker survivors in Kentex also reported violations of general labor standards, contrary to the claims made by the Labor Department.
Only workers who served for 20-25 years in the company are considered “regular” workers, while those who have been working for an average of 10 years are considered “casual” workers. These regular and casual workers comprise a minority of the workforce and receive only the minimum wage despite having worked for the company for many years. Workers say that the union is a “company union” with around 30 members.
There are more than 100 workers out of the less than 200 workers who were hired by the CGC agency and were receiving only a daily wage of P202 plus P187 to P220 daily allowance, depending on the number of years of service. Agency workers also complain that they discovered that the CGC agency did not remit their SSS, Philhealth and PAG-IBIG contributions and that whenever they complain, the agency would only return their contributions instead of enrolling them in the said mandatory social benefits.
Workers also complain that they have to bear the heat inside the factory during work hours as there is no proper ventilation in the factory. They claim that they get tired of work not because of the heavy workload but because of the heat inside the factory premises.
Apart from the daily-paid casual workers who were hired by the manpower agency, there were also workers who were hired on “pakyawan” or piece-rate basis. These workers work for 12 hours a day without formal contract. Mary Ann Tenis, 30 years old and a single parent of three children, was one of the victims. Her youngest was just nine-month old, according to a friend who was waiting for news about her friend. Tenis had worked for Kentex for five months and was hired as a piece-rate worker.
The victims’ families say that they lost their loved ones and their bread winners in the fire. They are pained by their relatives’ death and they are pained by the difficulty in identifying the bodies of their loved ones and giving them a proper burial. They are anxious about what the future holds, thinking of how they can support family members who were left behind.
Call for justice, criminalization of violations that result in deaths
We mourn the death of scores of workers in Kentex and we express our deepest condolences to their families, friends and co-workers. We connect their unjust death with the tragedies that also claimed the lives of 11 construction workers in Bulacan, 8 female workers of AsiaTech in Pasay, 10 construction workers in Eton Towers, and 17 women workers at Novo in Butuan. Many had died but no one had been prosecuted or held criminally liable, constituting impunity in industrial safety.
Successive occupational accidents leading to deaths of workers only prove that existing policies and rules on occupational health and safety standards continue to fail in protecting workers and avoiding tragic accidents. Even the joint assessment and tripartite monitoring system mandated by DOLE Order No. 131-13 that superseded DO 57-04 – which was much-criticized as for promoting companies’ “self-assessment” with regard to occupational health and safety standards – apparently fall short in ensuring that factories and workplaces comply with occupational health and safety standards.
Workers’ safety and health cannot be left to the mercy of companies’ self-regulation or voluntary compliance. Workers’ basic rights to occupational health and safety should not be hinged on companies’ voluntarism but rather on strict enforcement by the government. From this perspective, it is justifiable to claim that DO 131-13 is in essence the same as DO 57-04, except that it uses the rhetoric of tripartism. It still still about the government’s abnegation of its regulatory responsibility. With the lack of genuine workers’ representation through a legitimate and independent union, and with the government working in cahoots with employers, tripartism from this end is nothing but hollow mechanism that masks employers’ sole power in the workplace.
Let not the tragedies in Kentex, Novo Jeans, Eton, among others happen again and claim the lives of more workers. Thus, we demand:
(1) Hold the DOLE and the
Bureau of Fire Protection who gave the company compliance certification
accountable for the factory fire and deaths of almost a hundred workers
and employees. Investigate the process of inspection for the issuance of
compliance certification of Kentex. Impose criminal and administrative
penalties/charges (?) to key DOLE officials in-charge of the issuance of
the compliance certificate.
(3) Just compensation for the families of victims, proper benefits for workers who lost their jobs after the fire, and long-term support for orphaned children.
(4) Repeal of DO 131-13 and immediate passage House Bill 4635 or Workers’ SHIELD (Safety and Health Inspection and Employers’ Liability Decree) that will make violations of occupational health and safety standards both criminal and administrative offenses, while providing victims avenues for justice.
We call on the families of victims of Kentex accident to rise up and demand justice for their loved ones. We also call on the people to demand justice for Kentex workers and all other victims of occupational accidents by joining the national day of mourning on Monday, 18 May 2015.
|Officiating priest with the relatives of the Kentex fire victims|
|Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus and PCPR's Nardy Sabino|
Justice for Kentex
workers and other victims of OHS Standards violations!
Hold DOLE accountable
for the Kentex Tragedy!
Repeal DO 131-13! Pass
Institute for Occupational Health and Safety DevelopmentCenter for Trade Union and Human RightsEcumenical Institute for Labor Education and ResearchKilusang Mayo Uno
|▲Media interviews ▼|
15 May 2015
International group hits Aquino for sweatshop fire deaths
MANILA. The Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS-Phils) blamed the Aquino government for the death of 72 workers in the fire that broke out at a local sweatshop factory in Valenzuela City yesterday.
As the ILPS-Phils commiserates with the victims' kin, it warned of a "cover-up" in the on-going investigation on who is primarily responsible for their deaths.
"Full accountability rests on Pres. Benigno Aquino III and his local government secretary Mar Roxas commanding the inept and corrupt Bureau of Fire Protection, together with the Department of Labor executing pro-capitalist employment policies for these deaths in the workplace," ILPS-Phils Chair Elmer Labog said.
The group said that the issue is beyond occupational health and safety. The fire disaster, one of the deadliest on record in the country, is "an accident waiting to happen."
"This is because of the prevalent sweatshops conditions under neoliberal policies implemented assiduously by Pres. Aquino. Factory-level cost-cutting, wage-freeze policies, contractual labor and continuing government corruption worsened the calamity that befell these workers."
"It happened in Bangladesh, it is happening in the Philippines," the ILPS-Phils said.
A factory fire in Butuan City killed 17 workers in 2012 and eight more this year at the Asia Micro Tech factory in Pasay City.
"Workers lives matter," the group said.
"The demand for full investigation into the Valenzuela fire by opportunist labor groups Nagkaisa, including the ALU-TUCP, BMP, FFW and NCL, is but a lame ambulance-chasing scheme to cover-up for the government's criminal neglect of workers and for their own self-serving economic and political gains," it said.
The ILPS-Phils supports the workers' own collective assertion of their right to occupational health and safety as part of their struggle against capitalist exploitation and emancipation from sweatshop conditions.
calls on workers and supporters around the world to extend immediate
relief to the victims' families and campaign to hold Aquino accountable
for the sweatshop deaths.###
I L P S
BAYAN SecGen Renato Reyes and a relative whose mother,
sister and aunt died in the Kentex fire
|Mother of a victim|
15 May 2015
Reference: Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD Advocacy Officer, 0917-6252919
Criminalize violations of OHS Standards!
Violations of occupational health and safety
standards committed by the management of Kentex Manufacturing, Inc. caused
the death of the workers in the deadly fire in Valenzuela City last
Wednesday. A total of 72 workers died and several others are still
missing . It should be noted that 69 workers met their death in the
second floor of the building.
Based on accounts of the workers who survived the fire tragedy and as seen in the appearance of the burned structure, occupational safety standards were clearly violated. The management of Kentex Manufacturing did not comply with major provisons of Rule 1940 or the Fire Protection and Control Rule 1940 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards of 1989.
towers or horizontal exits.
B) Kentex workers who survived the factory fire said that containers of newly-delivered flammable chemicals (Superseal) were not stored properly and were placed in the vicinity where the welding was being done. This is a clear violation of the provisions of Rule 1943.07 on storage:
(1) Significant quantities of commodities with fire hazards greater than ordinary combustible commodities shall be separated from the main bulk by fire walls.
C) Kentex workers claimed that there were no recent fire drills done in the workplace. This is a clear violation of Rule 1948.03:
(1) Fire-exit drills shall be conducted at least twice a year to maintain an orderly evacuation of buildings, unless the local fire department requires a higher frequency of fire drills.
According to the statement released by Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, “Kentex Manufacturing has been found to be compliant with general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards after a joint assessment by our Labor Laws Compliance Officers under the new Labor Laws Compliance System”. The tragic death of the 72 Kentex workers is more than enough proof that the labor laws compliance inspection being implemented by the DOLE is erroneous, unreliable and questionable.
The Labor Department has continuously bragged about the new Labor Laws Compliance Sytem being implemented since 2013 as “one of its kind” and that the Philippines is “one of the first to adopt the innovative approach for improving compliance with labor laws”. Workplace accidents and workers’ deaths show the exact opposite of DOLE’s boastful claims. Since its implementation, major workplace accidents including the fire tragedy in Kentex factory have occurred: (a) fire tragedy in Asiatech warehouse in Pasay in 2014 (8 female workers dead), (b) collapse of building in a warehouse construction in Bulacan in Januay 2015 (12 dead) ; (c) construction site accident in BGC in February 2015 (2 dead).
The new Labor Laws Compliance System being implemented by the DOLE is contained in Department Order 131-13 which aims to “inculcate and foster a culture of voluntary compliance, where there is less government intervention, and there is more workers’ and employers’ active participation in the plant-level.” This “tripartite” approach to labor laws compliance particularly on occupational safety standards has resulted in more injuries and deaths among workers and employers’ continuous violations of OHS standards. Workers’ lives, health and safety should not be anchored in the trust given by the Labor Department to company managements. Employers cannot be expected to voluntarily comply and report their violations of safety standards.
We call for the mandatory, strict and frequent safety inspection by the Labor Department of all establishments. The inspection should be done through unannounced visits of labor inspectors to prevent companies from concealing safety standards violations. Results of the inspection should be published immediately and must be presented and approved by the general assembly of workers.
We condemn the Labor Department’s silence and lack of concrete steps to make the employers accountable for the lives of the Kentex workers. Claims and promises of “social and labor justice” to be given to the workers are grave insults to the grieving families who seek justice for their loved ones.
We call on the Labor Department to immediately release the results of the inspections done on Kentex Manufacturing, investigate the labor laws compliance officer (LLCO) who performed the inspection and most especially file concrete criminal charges against the Kentex management.
We reiterate our call for the immediate passage of House Bill 4635 or Worker’s SHIELD (Safety and Health Inspection and Employer’s Liability Decree) that seeks the Labor Department’s mandatory inspection of all establishments and the criminalization of violations of OHS standards. The criminalization of OHS violations will definitely contribute to pushing companies to comply with health and safety laws. If the law is approved, employers who are proven guilty will not only pay penalties to the state but will be meted out appropriate criminal obligations based on the gravity of their violation.
We call on the government to resolutely act and put an end to the continuous neglect of our workers’ right to life. We appeal to all legislators to immediately pass House Bill 4635 and shield our workers from unsafe working conditions and deadly occupational hazards.
Justice for Kentex workers!
Pass House Bill 4635 or Worker’s SHIELD!
Safe working conditions for Filipino workers!
Institute for Occupational Health and Safety
|KMU's Nitz Gonzaga|
Aquino hit for 'lack of empathy' for Kentex workers
"The president is quick to show up for big capitalists, but has not even issued a statement to express his sympathy with the families of the workers who died. This shows his utter lack of compassion for workers and for the poor," said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
Crisostomo said this is in contrast with Aquino's "agad-agad" presence in the SM "martilyo gang" incident and Serendra blast.
"Instead of joining calls for justice, DOLE and the Palace spokesmen issued statements leading to a whitewash of the owner's and the government's accountability in the tragedy. The company and DOLE obviously violated labor standards and safety regulations while government covered up for them by echoing statements saying they 'complied' with standards," he said.
He was referring to Palace spokesman Sonny Coloma and DOLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz who were quoted saying the company was complying with labor rules and standards.
"DOLE and Aquino's anti-worker, pro-capitalist policies like low wages, flexible labor and lack of strict labor standards has brought tragedy to the lives of workers. There should be an independent investigation into why DOLE has allowed the factory to continue operation despite its not having a fire exit, non-adherence to proper health and safety standards, and violations of labor standards like the minimum wage," he said.
Crisostomo said workers groups, together with the relatives of the victims are launching a #JusticeForKentexWorkers campaign to call for the prosecution of the capitalists and DOLE officials responsible, proper compensation for the families and the junking of Aquino's government's anti-worker policies.
The demise of 72 Kentex workers in a Valenzuela fire brought to fore the case of labor rights violations in a reputed business-friendly environment, research group IBON said.
IBON pointed out that Philippine economic policy's "business friendly" concept has meant creating an environment conducive to business profit-maximization, but not to workers and their welfare. This includes implementing flexible labor schemes, pegging low wages, and violating safety procedures in the work place.
In its 'Doing Business in the Philippines' 2011 report, the World Bank cited Valenzuela as one of the most business-friendly cities in the Philippines for ranking consistently in starting a business, registering property and dealing with construction permits.
Valenzuela City was also chosen as 'most business-friendly' highly-urbanized city by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI) in October 2014 for being 'successful at creating an environment that is conducive to business. Also last year, the city placed second in the government/ evacuation center category of the Liveable Cities Design Challenge (LCDC) organized by the National Competitiveness Council and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Yet initial reports confirmed that while their jobs involved close contact with chemicals, the dozens of Kentex workers who perished in the fire wore no protective gear, in violation of occupational safety and health standards. The victims were also trapped in the second floor of the factory, the windows of which were secured with iron grills. Factory premises also lacked sufficient fire exits.
Survivors also attest that many Kentex workers were contractual, meaning that they do not have the social benefits accorded to regulars. Workers who were hired on output basis ('pakyawan'), meanwhile, had no records in the company, which means that management has no accountability toward them.
IBON likened the boosting of Valenzuela's image by international and local finance and business outfits to the Philippine 'Asia's next miracle' hype being pushed by the same groups. It is meant to attract investments and boost profit-seeking ventures at the expense of public welfare, the group said.
With the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) initial pronouncement that Kentex Mfg. Corp. has passed labor standards, IBON urged the department to investigate further and look at other similar cases of workers' rights violations in the country. Philippine labor law should also be reformed to genuinely look after the interests and welfare of Filipino workers, the group said. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.
▲Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno set up an exhibit at the Plaza Miranda this afternoon in order to explain the circumstances surrounding the fire that gutted footwear factory Kentex Manufacturing, Inc. last May 13 as well as the situation of the workers there. ▼
KMU said that Baldoz has
no right to make it appear that she is a neutral mediator in this case and
to convene a mandatory conference with the capitalists of Kentex and the
management of CJC Manpower Services this Monday.
15 May 2015
For Reference: REP. LUZVIMINDA C ILAGAN 0920-9213221
REP. EMMI DE JESUS 0917-3221203
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119
GABRIELA SOLON DEMANDS SWIFT JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF VALENZUELA FIRE
Gabriela Women's Party Representative Emmi De Jesus joined mourners in offering flowers and lighting candles during a mass celebrated in memory of the 72 workers who perished in the blaze that gutted a slippers factory in Valenzuela.
“It pains me to look at pictures of women in anguish: mothers, wives,
sisters and that of children crying plastered on television and pages of
newspapers following the report of the fire. Reports also say that many
of the victims trapped inside were women”, De Jesus said.
She added that past workplace fires and even building collapses victimized women and minors who are forced to live as stay-in workers to squeeze huge amount of profit out of their labor. The fire prevention and labor agencies tasked to ensure safety and check violations, she added, ignored the prison-like architecture of thousands of sweatshops that treat workers as slaves and potential pilferers of goods.
"Magkahalong lungkot at poot ang nadarama namin sa Gabriela sapagkat ang naging biktima ng kapabayaan ng gobyerno sa pagkakataong ito ay mga manggagawang nagsisikap na buhayin ang kanilang pamilya sa gitna ng kadusta-dustang kalagayan sa pagawaan at sa ekonomiya sa pangkabuuan. At sa kamatayan ng mga manggagawa sa Kentex, may pananagutan ang gobyerno hindi lang dahil sa kapabayaan sa pagpapatupad ng occupational health and safety standards kundi maging sa pagseseguro ng disente at nakabubuhay na trabaho para sa mamamayan," (We in Gabriela feel sadness and wrath because this time the victims government neglect are workers who try so hard to give their family a decent life in the midst of abject labor conditions and the persisting economic crisis. In the death of the Kentex workers, the government is liable not only for the deaths accruing from government's negligence in implementing occupational health safety standards but more so because of its inutility to provide decent jobs for the people,) De Jesus said.
The Gabriela Solon once more called on the House Committee on Labor and Employment to wake up and immediately call for hearings on the "Workers' SHIELD" bill that the partylist filed last year to get a clear picture on how factory conditions even worsened under the Aquino administration. ###
▲ Members of Bayan Metro Manila lighted candles in front of the burnt Kentex factory in Valenzuela City. They were joined by families of the fire victims and residents from nearby communities.
The group and families call for justice for the victims of the tragedy
Workers group express sympathy for the victims of Kentex factory in Valenzuela
May 14, 2015 Photo by Tudla Productions
|▲Photo by Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions ▼|
Justice for the workers of Kentex! Justice for Filipino workers!
We express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the workers of Kentex Manufacturing Incorporated who died in a factory fire yesterday. We are one with you in mourning the untimely and unjust deaths of our fellow workers.
The official death count stopped at 72. Others went missing in the fire along Tatalon Street in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City. We are calling for an immediate and full accounting of the names of the workers who died in the accident.
Our hearts are crying out for justice for the workers of Kentex. Not a single worker should die in the workplace, even when a fire breaks out. The number of workers who died and the number of workers who went missing clearly indicate that occupational health and safety standards have been violated by the capitalists of Kentex. We demand their immediate prosecution for this crime.
This is not the first factory fire which killed many workers under the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino. Last May 9, 2012, 17 workers of Novo Jeans and Shorts in Butuan City died when a fire broke out. Last April 30, 2014, eight workers of Asia Micro Tech in Pasay City died when a fire broke out. This is also not the first time that workers were killed at the workplace. Many construction workers have died under the Aquino government.
We are revolted that not a single capitalist has been judged guilty and jailed for the massacre of workers in the workplace under the Aquino government. We are calling for justice for all the workers who died in the workplace. We are calling for the criminalization of violations of occupational health and safety standards that result in workers’ deaths.
We are aghast that Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 131-13 titled “Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System” declares that it aims to foster “a culture of voluntary compliance with labor laws” while further decreasing government responsibility for the upholding of occupational health and safety standards. It invokes “tripartism” in the means to uphold health and safety in the workplace in order to cover up the naked power that capitalists wield in the workplace.
We are calling on Filipino workers to unite and fight for the upholding of occupational health and safety, as well as for other fundamental workers’ rights. Let us form genuine, militant and nationalist labor unions so we can fight for our rights which are ultimately about our very lives.
▲Relatives of Kentex
factory fire victims wait in line to view the bodies hoping they will be
able to identify their loved ones. According to Valenzuela City's PIO, the
bodies are beyond recognition. Blood samples from the victims' relatives
are taken for DNA testing to be able to identify the bodies.
May 15, 2015
All Workers Unity Spokespersons: Rea Alegre, 0916-6849195,
PAGKAKAISA NG MANGGAGAWA SA TIMOG KATAGALUGAN-KILUSANG MAYO UNO (PAMANTIK-KMU)
May 14, 2015
Roque Polido (09204518863), Chairperson, PAMANTIK-KMU
Christopher Oliquino (09085772960), Vice-Chairperson, PAMANTIK-KMU
Makatarungang kompensasyon para sa mga manggagawang biktima ng sunog sa Valenzuela
Taos-pusong nakikiramay ang buong kasapian ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) sa mga pamilya ng mgabiktima sa nangyaring sunog ng isang pagawaan ng tsinelas sa Valenzuala nitong Mayo 13, 2015.
Isang malagim na trahediya para sa maralitang Pilipino ang biglang mawalan ng nagtataguyod sa pagsustento para sa pang-araw-araw na pangangailan pamilya. Ang nangyaring sunog na kumitil sa kumpirmadong 31 katao na karamihan ay kababaihan (at pinangangambahang umakyat pa sa 70 dahil “nawawala” o hindi na makilala pa mula sa natupok na apoy) – ay kung tutuusin hindi lamang isang aksidente kundi may pananagutan dapat sa may-ari ng pagawaan at lalo na sa Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) ng gobyernong Aquino.
Kapuna-puna napinaniniwalaang mula sa isang “pagsabog ng mga kemikal na ginagamit sa paggawa ng tsinelas” ang pinagmulan ng sunog.Nakumpirma ring walangfire escapes ang mismong gusali kaya’t napilitan makulong ang karamihan sa mga manggagawa sa ikalawang palapag hanggang tuluyang lamunin sila ng apoy.
Maiuugat natin ang ganitong mga kapabayaan sa usapin ng occupational health at fire safety standards dahil sa kawalan ng inspeksyon ng DoLE sa mga pabrika upang mapangalagaan ang kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa. Sa tala nga ng International Labor Organization, sa bawat 15 segundo ay isang manggagawa ang namamatay dahil sa disgrasya o sakit na nakukuha sa loob ng lugar ng pagawaan.
Ngunit sa halip na mapababa ang istatistikang ito, dahil sa ipinatupad ng DoLE na Department Order 57-04, nagkibit-balikat na lamang ang ahensiya sa kanilang responsibilidad sa mga manggagawa. Hinayaan ng DoLE ang mga pagawaang nag-eempleyo ng 200 katao o higit pa na maglunsad na lamang ng “self-assessment” hinggil sa occupational health and safety ng kani-kanilang mga pagawaan.
Sa Timog Katagalugan (TK), talamak ang mga pagawaang hindi nagpapatupad ng mga patakarang mangangalaga sa kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa. Lalo na sa bahagi ng mga kontraktwal na manggagawa na hindi binibigyan ng Personal Protective Equipment, hindi sinasanay upang magkaroon ng kaalaman hinggil sa panganib ng mga kemikal na kanilang ginagamit sa paggawa, at hindi ipinagkakalooban ng mga nararapat na benepisyo. Hindi nalalayo ang sitwasyon sa TK na maliban sa panganib na maisalang sa mga katulad na trahediya ay araw-araw tinatamaan ng krisis dahil sa mababang pasahod at kawalan ng seguridad sa trabaho.
Kaya’t kaisa ng mga
pamilya ng biktima ang PAMANTIK-KMU sa pagpapanawagan para sa
makatarungang kompensasyon para sa mga pamilya ng nawalandulot ng sunog.
Gayundin, nananawagan kami sa ang pagsusulong ng pagtaas sa kalidad ng
pangangalaga sa kaligtasan ng manggagawa sa loob ng pabrika upang maiwasan
ang mga kahalintulad pangtrahediya at panganib sa buhay ng manggagawang
Pilipinong siyang bumubuhay sa ekonomiya ng ating bansa. #
bodies of the Kentex workers were brought to Brgy. Maysan's Mutipurpose
Hall in Valenzuela City for processing and identification. Coffins from
different funeral parlors were delivered to the hall.