DOLEvow­sto find truth in HTI la­bor com­pli­ance

Sun.Star Pampanga - - NATION! -

con­tin­ued al­le­ga­tions of white­wash­ing, the De­part­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DOLE) has vowed to find the truth on whether fire-struck House Tech­nol­ogy In­dus­tries (HTI) was com­pli­ant to oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health (OSH) and la­bor stan­dards.

In an in­ter­view, DOLE Un­der­sec­re­tary Joel Maglun­sod as­sured that they will ad­e­quately de­ter­mine pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by HTI man­age­ment af­ter a fire gut­ted its fa­cil­ity in Cavite last Fe­bru­ary 1.

“Ang in­ves­ti­ga­tion natin ay kasama na rin yung kabu­uan in the sense na hindi lang natin ililimit sa in­spec­tion ng oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety stan­dards. Kasama na rin yung gen­eral la­bor stan­dards,” sai d Maglun­sod, who heads the new­ly­formed Dole in­ves­ti­gat­ing panel.

And so far, the la­bor of­fi­cial dis­closed that they have al­ready found prob­a­ble vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by HTI.

Among them, he said, is hav­ing 6,000 to 7,000 work­ers be­ing hired through con­tract­ing and sub­con­tract­ing work ar­range­ments.

Maglun­sod also pointed at the fac­tory’s struc­tural prob­lems that make it a haz­ardous workp l ace.

Ear­lier, La­bor Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello III signed Ad­min­is­tra­tive Or­der 32, which con­sti­tuted a Dole In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team that aims to de­ter­mine the com­pli­ance of HTI on OSH and gen­eral la­bor st an d ar d s.

But while Dole is still con­duct­ing its probe, the Cen­ter for Trade and Hu­man Rights (CTUHR) said they have al­ready con­cluded their own factfind­ing mis­sion on the t r aged y.

Ac­cord­ing to the la­bor rights ad­vo­cacy group, their in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the tragedy showed that there are ef­forts to sup­press the com­plete truth be­hind the blaze that gut­ted the three-storey build­ing lo­cated in­side the Cavite Ex­port Pro­cess­ing Zone (CEPZ).

“The ini­tial find­ings...sug­gests that there is an ap­par­ent at­tempt on the part of the HTI man­age­ment, the Philip­pine Eco­nomic Zone Au­thor­ity (PEZA), the Cavite LGU (lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit) and, to cer­tain ex­tent, [Dole] Re­gional Of­fice to hide the ac­tual num­ber of ca­su­al­ties and the pos­si­ble [OSH] and la­bor stan­dards vi­o­la­tions,” said the re­port.

“The gov­ern­ment agen­cies, par­tic­u­larly the Cavite LGU, Dole, PEZA and their au­tho­rized rep­re­sen­ta­tives, have not granted ac­cess to of­fi­cial records nor the site of the tragedy, in­creas­ing prob­a­bil­ity of hid­ing the truth,”it fur­thered.

The full re­port of the CTUHR’s National Fact-Find­ing Mis­sion (NFFM) showed that there were vi­o­la­tions on oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety stan­dards due to hav­ing in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of fire ex­its and pas­sage­ways, lack of au­to­matic sprin­klers and smoke de­tec­tors, as well as fire en­clo­sures.

“In an en­vi­ron­ment with light, in­flammable ma­te­ri­als and com­bustible chem­i­cals, why is it that there were no sprin­klers and other fire safety mea­sures to con­tain the fire? Why is a build­ing con­sid­ered com­pli­ant, when it does not fol­low the man­dated num­bers of fire ex­its? Has the Bureau of Fire Pro­tec­tion fac­tored this in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion in dis­miss­ing the work­ers' claims that no one was trapped?” ques­tioned the re­port.

It also noted that while HTI pays its work­ers the min­i­mum wage of P356 per day, the big­gest com­pany in­side CEPZ vi­o­lates the manda­tory over­time pays.

“Work­ers in­ter­viewed by NFFM con­tend that they are paid P50 per hour, which is less than the man­dated 25 per­cent OT pre­mium per hour on reg­u­lar day,” said the NFFM.

The re­port also claimed that HTI en­gages in La­bor Only Con­tract­ing (LOC) prac­tices by em­ploy­ing the ser­vices of six man­power agen­cies to sup­ply its work­ers de­spite the pro­hi­bi­tion of the Dole.

“HTI has a peculiar way of hir­ing and main­tain­ing work­ers. It di­rectly hires work­ers, as ca­su­als, for about three months and hires through agen ci es. When ca­su­als di­rectly-hired by HTI com­pletes the three-month pe­riod and passed the per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion, s/ he will be handed over to one of the agen­cies for about two years, again, if per­for­mance is good,” noted the re­port.

Fi­nally, the NFFM re­port stated that HTI vi­o­lates the work­ers' right to or­ga­nize la­bor unions by re­strain­ing or lim­it­ing em­ploy­ees in law­ful ex­er­cise of their rights to or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“The HTI fac­tory is non-union­ized and work­ers re­vealed that, in the ori­en­ta­tion, hired ap­pli­cants are dis­suaded from or­ga­niz­ing or join­ing unions. HTI and its ser­vice providers prac­tice anti-union dis­crim­i­na­tion,” said the NFFM.

To note, HTI has an es­ti­mated 13,000 work­ers, with about half of them cur­rently present when the fire broke out.

CTUHR is a group com­posed of la­bor rights ad­vo­cates and trade union­ists that is com­mit­ted to "con­front state and cap­i­tal­ist’s hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions" com­mit­ted against worker s.

(HDT/ Sun­Star Philip­pines)

(PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

Res­i­dents re­lease hun­dreds of bal­loons fronting Manila Bay dur­ing the city's cel­e­bra­tion of Valen­tines Day themed, ‘Bay Walk Manila, A Night to Re­mem­ber,’on Tues­day evening (Feb 14, 2017) along Roxas Boule­vard, Manila.

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