Members of the National Fact-Finding Mission (NFFM) on the House Technology Industries tragedy revealed today that hundreds of HTI workers still remain unaccounted, contrary to the claim of HTI management, the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Cavite local government unit.
“The public deserves to know the truth. The data we have gathered in our fact-finding mission show that the real picture is totally different from and worse than the hasty and questionable statements that were made by government officials,” said Daisy Arago, executive director of labor NGO Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and head of the NFFM.
Last February 17, the NFFM shared its full report with Under Secretary Joel Maglunsod of the Department of Labor and Employment. USec. Maglunsod in turn, shared DOLE’s preliminary report on its ongoing investigation into the HTI fire.
“The workers’ accounts and the DOLE’s report speak volumes. Where are the 1,328 workers?” added Arago. “We demand that the HTI management release the complete list of its 13,000 workforce and identify the workers who reported for work on February 1. Without HTI’s full disclosure, doubts will linger and allegations of hiding the truth and evading full responsibility will continue.”
According to DOLE’s preliminary report, there are 1,328 unaccounted workers based on the headcount conducted by the HTI management days after the fire (582 among these do not have log-in records and 746 only have time-in records). These numbers affirmed the testimonials of the workers interviewed by the NFFM that many of their co-workers were left behind in the building during the fire.
The group condemned Cavite Governor Boying Remulla and PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza for repeatedly claiming that there were no casualties and that only a few workers were injured in the fire. read full article »
The Philippine government’s continuing “hands off” policy on workplace safety and other labor standards has made workplaces more dangerous and deadly for workers. Its continuous adherence with voluntary compliance, instead of mandatory labor inspection, as a framework on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is one of the immediate reasons for the mounting deaths and injuries in workplaces across the country.
Less than two years after the Kentex fire tragedy, which claimed the lives of more than 72 workers, a bigger workplace fire occurred in a Special Economic Zone which affected thousands of workers. The House Technology Industries (HTI) fire in Cavite Economic Zone last February 1 left more than a hundred workers injured and one worker dead as of this writing. There were accounts gathered from HTI workers that state that there are many workers who are still unaccounted for and were possibly trapped inside the burnt building.
Government policies supposedly mandating voluntary compliance with OSH and other labor standards as well as the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) over ecozones including occupational safety are key policies that cause workplace tragedies such as the fire in HTI in CEPZ.
The DOLE brags about supposedly “tripartite” means in upholding voluntary compliance, where the government through the DOLE, the workers and the employers are involved. Such a policy will amount to nothing, especially in the country’s ecozones where the right to unionize and collectively bargain are being violated with impunity. In the first place, the majority of workers there are contractuals, whose right to regular employment is being violated. What ever “joint assessment” is conducted is surely between the PEZA-DOLE and the employer. read full article »