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Labor group claims 99% of factories around Kentex violate labor, safety standards


A labor coalition said that "99 percent" of the factories around Kentex Manufacturing Corporation's plant in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City violate basic labor laws and occupational health and safety standards.

In a statement sent to GMA News Online, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) labor coalition said that surprise onsite joint inspections conducted with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the formal labor sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) found that most of the initial 42 establishments surrounding the burned-down slipper factory do not comply with the current mandated daily minimum wage of P481. They also do not remit their employees' Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig premiums.

"The inspections also confirmed how widespread contractualization of labor has become," TUCP-Nagkaisa said.

Many workers in the establishments inspected do not know how to compute their overtime pay, night shift differentials and holiday pay, among others. They were also not aware of other benefits such as the service incentive leave pay and maternity, paternity and solo parent leave.

On the Occupational Safety and Health Standard aspect, Nagkaisa said that all of the assessed establishments did not comply with the standards. The group said that many factories around Kentex either had no fire exits or had obstructed fire exits.

Here is a complete list of the violations, according to the labor group:

  • No occupational safety and health policy and program in the workplace
  • Poor housekeeping (unorganized materials and equipment)
  • Lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • No earplugs for noise pollution
  • No prescribed face masks for airborne contaminants
  • Poor workers’ toilet and washing facilities
  • No safety organization/committee in the workplace
  • No trained safety officer and first aider
  • Insufficient first aid kits and emergency medicines
  • Absence of fire exits
  • Obstructed fire exits
  • No fire drills conducted
  • No sprinklers
  • No hoist equipment permit for elevators
  • No electrical wiring inspection presented
  • No safety officer
  • No annual work accident and/or illness exposure data
  • No annual medical report
  • No workplace policies and guidelines for the prevention and control of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS
  • No machine guard
  • No welding goggles

These conclusions were made after five days of surprise inspections starting June 8.

Task Force Valenzuela

The inspections stemmed from Nagkaisa's request for DOLE to create a tripartite task force to verify employer compliance after the Kentex factory burned down last May 13, killing at least 70 employees.

According to a report by Reuters, windows on the factory's second floor, where most victims were found, were covered with steel mesh.

DOLE said that the owner of Kentex also violated the Labor Code by obtaining manpower services from an illegal subcontractor.

In response to the request, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued an order creating the Task Force Valenzuela on May 29, which later 19 teams each composed of DOLE Labor Law Compliance Officers, Nagkaisa representatives, and officials from the formal labor sector of the NAPC.

The teams used the Labor Laws Compliance Assessment Checklist on the compliance to the General Labor Standards (GLS) and on the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) to inspect the establishments around Kentex.

Task Force Valenzuela has until the end of July to finish assessing all of the establishments in the city. — BM, GMA News
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