National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the Filipino people in seeking justice for the victims of the fire that broke out at the House Technology Industries (HTI) complex inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone.
The HTI management, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment must be held accountable for their disregard for workers’ health and safety that led to yet again another tragedy resulting in the injury of hundreds of workers and possible loss of lives.
The KMU, together with the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety for Development (IOHSAD), Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), All Workers’ Unity and Gabriela Women’s Party, are now conducting a Fact Finding Mission at the CEPZ to gather data and look into the gross occupational health and safety standards violations that led to the tragedy.
As of this moment, we have confirmed that at least 104 workers were injured while unconfirmed ground reports also suggests of possible deaths as hundreds remain missing after being trapped inside the HTI complex.
We demand that there should be an immediate and thorough investigation on HTI’s violations on occupational safety and health standards especially with the fact that this is not the first time that a fire broke out at their compound.
We also demand the junking of the Republic Act 7916 or the “Special Economic Zones Act” that allows the establishment of special economic zones where foreign capitalists are given liberty to exploit workers and violate their rights and welfare to guarantee their profits.
The DOLE should also revoke its policy of voluntary labor standards inspection that allows capitalists to freely violate workers’ occupational health and safety standards.
The HTI tragedy highlights the gross exploitation of Filipino workers, especially in special economic zones, under the neoliberal economic policies. These policies has resulted in the further pressing down of workers’ wages through widespread contractualization, regionalization of wages and curtailment of workers’ rights to unionize, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.
We challenge the Duterte administration to stand for justice for HTI fire victims and the Filipino workers. He should reject his economic managers’ promotion of anti-worker neoliberal policies that would only further result to worse tragedy against Filipino workers.