Marking the third month of the Kentex factory fire, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, picketed the Labor Department in Intramuros, Manila this morning.
The group said Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and other top officials of the agency should resign and be held responsible for the death of more than 72 workers in the fire because they certified the slipper factory’s “compliance” with occupational health and safety standards and labor standards on September 2014.
KMU also condemned the Justice Department which, last July, recommended the filing of charges against the capitalists of Kentex and the local government of Valenzuela City but did not recommend the filing of charges against Baldoz and top officials of the Department of Labor and Employment.
“Three months after the Kentex factory fire, the building blocks of injustice have already been laid. The Aquino government is doing everything to insulate from blame the government agency most responsible for the death of more than 72 workers,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
The labor leader said the Aquino government, in refusing to hold the Labor Department accountable for the death of Kentex workers, is upholding flawed government policies on workplace safety and is defending close allies of the president.
“The Aquino government does not want to change its pro-capitalist policies on workplace safety. It does not want to hold Baldoz, a close ally of the president, responsible. These are there reasons why it refuses to recognize the Labor Department’s accountability for the death of many workers,” Ustarez added.
KMU has been calling for the junking of DOLE Order No. 131-13 or the “Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System” which it says masks the government’s collusion with capitalists through a so-called “tripartite” mechanism of workplace safety inspection.
“Upholding workplace safety should be embraced by the national government as its task. It should stop passing the burden on to local government units, lest there be differences in upholding workplace safety standards,” Ustarez stated.
KMU also reiterated its support for a substitute bill that was approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Labor and Employment last August 5 and seeks to legislate mandatory inspection of all businesses in the country and heavy penalties for capitalists who violate workplace safety standards.
Posted By: Lynne Pingoy