Kentex tragedy: Final nail in the coffin
It is the head of Baldoz that must roll – BMP
As the massive outpouring of grief and indignation escalates over the tragic loss of seventy-two lives in a blaze that engulfed the factory of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela, socialist labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) raised their demand and called for the immediate and irrevocable resignation of labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
“While local officials of Valenzuela are guilty for negligence of duty and most probably corruption and collusion with the employer, Baldoz remains to be the prime culprit in the tragedy when she ordered and implemented outright anti-worker policies that principally contributed to the misery and the deaths of the workers at Kentex,” Leody de Guzman, chairman of BMP said.
“Her defense last week of the issuance of Certificate of Compliance to the Kentex management as a compliant of labor and safety standards is insignificant compared to the damage inflicted by her policies,” the BMP leader insisted.
However the BMP leader treats her knee-jerk defense of Kentex owners as a confirmation of their strong suspicion that her true loyalty lies with the capitalists and must therefore resign the post as labor secretary.
“Her bias is tantamount to the total betrayal of the post entrusted to her, De Guzman asserted
Capitalist agent heads the DOLE
De Guzman explained that, “Baldoz is guilty of deliberately and consistently issuing flimsy regulations that in effect would circumvent other laws in order to accommodate the interests of oligarchs since taking over the reins of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 2010. By cheapening the cost of doing business in the country, she automatically sent the rights and welfare of millions of workers and their families to the gallows”.
Among the illegal policies and department orders the BMP cited which were issued by Baldoz were Department Orders (DO) 18-A in 2011 and 131-13 in 2013 among others.
De Guzman also clarified that, “The issuance of DO 18-A ushered the legalization of sub-contracting, even if it is contrary to the Constitution and the Labor Code. This also cemented the cheap labor policy of the government that opened the flood gates to pervasive unfair labor practices as sweatshops mushroomed nationwide”.
The denial of the workers their right to security of tenure, leads to rampant violations of other statutory rights such as the right to self-organize, collective bargaining, hold a strike and humane working conditions.
Meanwhile the DO 131-13 meant that establishments like factories were presumed safe until proven unsafe.
“The slackening of labor standards by Baldoz has not only equated to the abandonment of the rights and welfare of workers but it also meant that were treated as sacrificial lambs in the altar of the capitalists greed for profit, even if it meant that their very lives were at stake,” their statement read.
Mandatory Hearings: Cheap Trick
The labor leader also hinted that the findings of the recent mandatory inquiry between DOLE-NCR and the contractors last Monday was just the surface of the miserable working conditions that needed no investigation. “The non-remittance of PhilHealth and SSS contributions and underpayment of wages are the least of such abuses,” he said.
De Guzman accused Baldoz of playing the victim card by portraying that she is unaware of the rampant violations and was purposively hidden from her. But it is clear to us that she used the blood of the workers to sign their death warrants”.
The militant leader believes that the labor department shall not be able to avert another Kentex from happening if major policy changes and reforms are not installed, to which the removal of Baldoz is principal among the necessary reforms”.
Meanwhile another labor group, the Union Presidents Against Contractualization (UPAC) reiterated their call for the junking of the DO 18-A as well. “DO 18-A has failed to curb labor-only-contacting and has even further encouraged capitalist abuses similar to the conditions in Kentex,” said Leni Ogarte, chairperson of UPAC.
They likewise said that they shall pursue their plans of filing of charges to against Baldoz her grave abuse of discretion issuing an outright anti-labor decree.
UPAC also proposed that the DOLE deputize local labor union presidents as labor inspectors to boost the enforcement of labor standards and safety rules in order to curb occupational health and safety violations.
Going to the mattresses
The militant labor group declared that, “It would be grave injustice to the memory of one hundred and thirty eight workers occupational health victims from the Eton Greenbelt residences mishap in May 2011 up to the Kentex inferno if Baldoz remains at the helm of the DOLE and the prolongation of her anti-labor policies”.
The BMP together with allied organizations Sanlakas and Partido Lakas ng Masa will not rest and will go on the offensive if Baldoz does not voluntarily resign from her post or if the Aquino regime opts to coddle her.
21 May 2015
Ref. Leody De Guzman 0920-5200672
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
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