Sixth month of Kentex fire marked with protest

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Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno gathered at Plaza Sta. Cruz in Manila this morning to hold a protest and mark the sixth month of the Kentex factory fire, which claimed the lives of more than 74 workers.

They asserted that justice is being delayed and is being denied to the victims and survivors of the fire tragedy, as the Valenzuela Prosecutor’s Office refuses to act on criminal cases filed by the workers and the government, and the Ombudsman refuses to act on administrative charges filed by the workers.

They also said that the Social Security System still has not filed cases against Beato Ang and Ongkin Guan, the capitalists of Kentex, as well as Cynthia Dimayuga, owner of CJC Manpower Services, for failing to remit workers’ contributions to the fund.

Anim na buwan, wala pa ring katarungan. It’s been six months and there’s still no justice. This is most revolting, given the fact that more than 74 workers lost their lives in the fire,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said it appears that for the government, all that has to be done is to give financial compensation and assistance to the victim’s families and the survivors.

“The death of many workers show that there were grave violations of safety standards. The capitalists of Kentex and top government officials should be held accountable for the deaths,” Adonis added.

In the protest, KMU also condemned Labor Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, which was signed by Pres. Noynoy Aquino on November 13, 2011 and sets the guidelines governing contractualization in the country.

“The workers of Kentex were also victims of contractualization, which was legalized by this DO. When the DO was signed, the government promised the regularization of contractuals. After four years, contractualization has only spread further,” Adonis stated.

The workers also condemned the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, saying this would worsen joblessness and the poor quality of jobs in the country.

“Almost 20 years after the country first hosted the APEC, unemployment and underemployment has spread. Wages are lower than before, contractualization is more widespread, the number of workers in unions and covered by CBA’s has decreased, and workplaces have become more dangerous,” Adonis stated.