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IOHSAD marks Workers’ Memorial Day, remembers workers who died due to work and pushes government to protect Filipino workers' lives

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As the world commemorates this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day, safety organization Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, together with the illegally dismissed workers of Golden Fortune Techno Built Inc., remember the construction workers who have died due to work.

The Philippine construction industry is considered as one of the most hazardous sector for workers. It has contributed a significant number of occupational accidents in recent years which claimed the lives of more than 40 construction workers.

Two of the most tragic occupational accidents occurred during President Benigno Aquino’s term.
In January 2011, during his first year of presidency, 10 construction workers of Eton Properties died due to violations of safety standards. Four years after and his last year in the presidency, another tragic accident occurred in a construction site in Bulacan which claimed the lives of 11 people. Both investigations made by the Department of Labor showed major lapses and non-compliance of the contractors to occupational health and safety standards.

Construction workers are not only exposed to high occupational risks but they also receive low wages, experience contractual and temporary work, bear the ill effects of having no union to defend their rights. “They build skyscrapers but live in small shanties. They contribute to the country’s economy but receive meager wages. The injustice and continuous neglect of the government to the Filipino construction workers’ basic right to life should end”, said Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD Advocacy Officer.

Last December 2014, a total of 104 construction workers of Golden Fortune Techno-Built Inc. were illegally dismissed by the management. “We were just exercising our right to form a union but the management prevented us by not re-hiring us in their new construction project. I have been working for GFTBI for more than 30 years. We just wanted to defend our rights but they took away our jobs,” said Rogelio Justiniane, President, Golden Fortune Construction-National Federation of Workers Union-KMU.

Filipino construction workers and overseas Filipino workers like Mary Jane Veloso share the same plight. They are all victims of poverty, lack of safe and decent jobs in the country and government neglect. The government’s failure to provide decent work forces our kababayans to take precarious, low paying, and risky jobs.

“Today, as we remember all the Filipino construction workers who died at work, let us also demand justice for all the workers who are continuously being neglected by the government that is mandated to protect and uphold their basic rights,” said De Leon. ##