May 29, 2015
The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) today challenged President Benigno Aquino III to certify as priority legislation of his administration the bill providing for criminalization of violation of occupational safety and health (
“PNoy’s declaration that there needs to be an ‘integrated multi-disciplinary
approach’ in response to the Kentex factory fire are highfalutin words good for
bureaucrats but abstract to workers who want to see concrete action and political
will from the government,” averred Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.
It was reported that last Wednesday that President Aquino met officials from the Labor Department and other agencies regarding the government’s response to the Kentex fire. Even earlier Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz pushed for the enactment of pending bills that mandate stiffer fines and jail terms for employer breach of workplace safety standards.
“We welcome Secretary Baldoz’s support for bills criminalizing
but until her boss PNoy certifies as urgent such pending legislation, they
remain so much noise signifying nothing,” Magtubo insisted.
PM had been vocal in calling not just for justice for workers killed and injured in the Kentex fire but for labor inspection and enforcement reforms. As an immediate reform, Magtubo called for deputizing labor leaders as additional labor inspectors. PM is also pushing for criminalization of
violations as a potent deterrent.
Magtubo said that “Workers can forget PNoy’s slight of not even visiting the Kentex factory after the fire or the wake of workers killed, but we cannot forgive if in the coming State of the Nation address he will not certify as urgent the bills providing for criminalization of OSH breach and for protection of security of tenure.”
Labor groups have been campaigning for passage of security of tenure bill that will regulate the rampant practice of replacing regular workers with contractual laborers. In the wake of the Kentex fire, it was found out that Kentex not only violated
standards but also labor laws, including using an illegal contractor to hire agency
workers in the factory.