Vic­tims of worst Philip­pine fac­tory fire set­tle out of court for US$3,360

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Fam­i­lies of 57 of the dead in the Philip­pines’ worst fac­tory fire have dropped their claims against the com­pany in ex­change for a 151,200-peso (US$3,360) set­tle­ment, a com­pany lawyer said Tues­day.

Fam­i­lies of more of the work­ers who died in the May 13 fire at the two-storey Ken­tex Man­u­fac­tur­ing fac­tory in sub­ur­ban Manila are ex­pected even­tu­ally to agree to the set­tle­ment, said Ken­tex lawyer Re­nato Paraiso.

The fire at the fac­tory which makes rub­ber slip­pers claimed 72 lives and sparked out­rage over the al­legedly un­safe con­di­tions which con­trib­uted to the high death toll.

La­bor groups also de­nounced Ken­tex for re­ly­ing on con­tract la­bor­ers who were not paid reg­u­lar salaries.

How­ever Paraiso said the set­tle­ment in­cludes a waiver against any fur­ther claims against Ken­tex.

“More or less, we gave them what is due to them,” he told AFP.

He said the set­tle­ments were not achieved through co­er­cion, stress­ing that they were ne­go­ti­ated with La­bor Depart­ment ar­biters present to ex­plain the con­se­quences to the fam­i­lies.

Paraiso also said Ken­tex was not to blame for the fire since it was started by sparks from welders hired from a third com­pany to re­pair a gate.

“We have no li­a­bil­ity re­gard­ing what hap­pened. It is just the moral obli­ga­tion of the man­age­ment in look­ing af­ter the work­ers,” he said.

Lawyers for the fam­i­lies of the dead could not be con­tacted for com­ment.

The min­i­mum wage for a worker in a large fac­tory is set at 481 pe­sos per day or about US$10.70.

La­bor Sec­re­tary Ros­alinda Bal­doz said the set­tle­ments would not pro­tect Ken­tex man­age­ment from any crim­i­nal charges.

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fire af­ter al­le­ga­tions that the fac­tory did not have sprin­klers or ad­e­quate fire ex­its and had bars on the win­dows which pre­vented peo­ple from es­cap­ing.

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