Justice and assistance for Cavite EPZA fire victims sought!
Editors note: As of this writing, the fire at the House Technology Industries (HTI) has not yet been declared fire-out by the Bureau of Fire Protection. No official statement is forthcoming from the authorities in relation to the numbers of casualties.
MANILA, Philippines — “We condole with the victims of the fire at House Technology Industries (HTI) in General Trias, Cavite. We are asking the Singaporean owners for their prompt aid for the victims and a thorough probe of the accident. Justice must be served for casualties among HTI workers!”
This was the statement of Dennis Sequena, Cavite coordinator of Partido Manggagawa (PM) when they trooped outside the Cavite Economic Processing Zone Authority (CEPZA) Thursday (2 February) morning.
PM and the Katipunan ng Manggagawang Pilipino (KMP) demand that a transparent investigation should be conducted and that justice be given to workers who are injured or perished in the industrial tragedy that started Wednesday (01 February) evening.
Sequena said HTI management and even the local government should learn from the mistake of Kentex Fire in Valenzuela City last 2015, wherein almost 74 workers died.
He noted that HTI might have issues implementing the occupational health and safety standards when a fire occurred in the company on October 19, 2012. The fire started in the boiler department of HTI factory that lasted for almost 48 hours.
“Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead, accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards,” Sequena explained.
He also argued that stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection are needed in response to the deadly industrial fires at HTI and Kentex, and loss of lives at several construction sites amidst the current real estate boom.
PM reminded employers not to cut corners in occupational safety in order to raise profits and called the attention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the lax implementation of labor and safety standards inside the ecozone.
“While capitalists were scrimping on protection for workers and DOLE was sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying and being injured in the workplace all around the country,” Sequena elaborated.
He added that HTI and its sister companies Wu Kong and SCAD employs thousands of workers but a lot of them are contractual even though they are doing the job of regular employees.
“Due to their short-term employment, contractual workers may not be properly informed of health and safety procedures, and probably not participate in fire drills. The proliferation of contractual workers from manpower agencies and labor co-ops must be stopped not just to advance decent working conditions but also workplace health and safety,” Sequena said. CPM