— Allan Gatus (@allangatus) May 13, 2015
MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Thursday that Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City is complaint with general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards (OSHS).
In a statement, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz noted that the DOLE-National Capital Region (NCR) issued the slipper company the Certificate of Compliance on Sept. 18, 2014 and it has a safety committee, with a union member representative, that implements safety rules and regulations.
“By way of background, Kentex Manufacturing Corporation 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,” she said.
Likewise, the DOLE-NCR conducted a technical inspection of the company on Jan. 30, 2014, during which the factory’s boilers used for heating have been found to be in satisfactory condition.
“Kentex is a unionized establishment and its workers union, the Kentex Independent Workers Union, has a collective bargaining agreement with management effective 28 April 2012 to 28 April 2017. The union has 33 members out of the company’s 54 workers. It also has a sub-contractor, based in Bulacan,” she said.
On the other hand, Baldoz assured the families of the victims and survivors of the fire that gutted the two-storey footwear firm on Wednesday, which killed more than 72 people, of the financial benefits due to them.
“The families of each of the worker who died in the tragedy will receive P20,000 in funeral benefit and death pension benefit, depending on the worker’s last salary, from the Social Security System which holds in trust the ECC trust fund,” she said.
Baldoz added, “For the survivors who need to be hospitalized, they will be entitled to medical or hospital benefits and sickness benefit of up to 120 days at a maximum of P200 per day. Those who were injured are entitled to free rehabilitation, and as may be necessary, prosthesis. The ECC also has livelihood and skills training for those who may not be able to work anymore. For those who may suffer from disability because of the tragedy, the ECC will process fast their ECC pension or lump sum compensation depending on the disability.”
The DOLE chief said that the DOLE-NCR is still coordinating with company management with regards to its financial obligations to the victims and the benefits it will provide to their families.
“I have tasked Regional Director Alex Avila to review the existing collective bargaining agreement of the workers’ union and the company to determine the benefits due to the workers. On top of these financial obligations and benefits, the workers are also entitled to other social security benefits of the Social Security System, the PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG,” she said.
At the same time, Baldoz expressed sympathy to the families of those who were killed in the fire.
“I express my deepest sympathies to the families of the workers who were killed and of the still undetermined still missing… This is a sad day for the DOLE, a workplace tragedy that diminishes us all. We pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the victims,” she said.
Meanwhile, Labor groups have asked for a fair, speedy but thorough investigation on this tragedy that caused death and injury to workers.
“The high death toll from this inferno strongly indicates a complete breach of safety protocols required for industries. Life certainly matters, but justice for this kind of catastrophe goes beyond legally required compensation,” said Renato Magtubo of Partido Manggagawa (PM).
For his part, Josua Mata of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro) suggested that investigations do not just determine the cause of fire, particularly on why dozens of workers were fatally trapped in the second floor of the factory building.
“The country’s occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) do not only require workplaces to be safe from hazardous and flammable substances but also must be equipped with necessary infrastructures that address emergencies like contamination, fire or explosions,” he said.