We express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the workers of Kentex Manufacturing Incorporated who died in a factory fire yesterday. We are one with you in mourning the untimely and unjust deaths of our fellow workers.
The official death count stopped at 72. Others went missing in the fire along Tatalon Street in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City. We are calling for an immediate and full accounting of the names of the workers who died in the accident.
Our hearts are crying out for justice for the workers of Kentex. Not a single worker should die in the workplace, even when a fire breaks out. The number of workers who died and the number of workers who went missing clearly indicate that occupational health and safety standards have been violated by the capitalists of Kentex. We demand their immediate prosecution for this crime.
This is not the first factory fire which killed many workers under the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino. Last May 9, 2012, 17 workers of Novo Jeans and Shorts in Butuan City died when a fire broke out. Last April 30, 2014, eight workers of Asia Micro Tech in Pasay City died when a fire broke out. This is also not the first time that workers were killed at the workplace. Many construction workers have died under the Aquino government.
We are revolted that not a single capitalist has been judged guilty and jailed for the massacre of workers in the workplace under the Aquino government. We are calling for justice for all the workers who died in the workplace. We are calling for the criminalization of violations of occupational health and safety standards that result in workers’ deaths.
We are aghast that Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 131-13 titled “Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System” declares that it aims to foster “a culture of voluntary compliance with labor laws” while further decreasing government responsibility for the upholding of occupational health and safety standards. It invokes “tripartism” in the means to uphold health and safety in the workplace in order to cover up the naked power that capitalists wield in the workplace.
We are calling on Filipino workers to unite and fight for the upholding of occupational health and safety, as well as for other fundamental workers’ rights. Let us form genuine, militant and nationalist labor unions so we can fight for our rights which are ultimately about our very lives.