[Statement] Uphold the rights of all working women! Justice for the Kentex workers! -WLB

Uphold the rights of all working women! Justice for the Kentex workers!

We, in the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), stand in solidarity with the families and friends of 69 workers and many more injured who seek justice and redress for the loss of lives and for injuries in the wake of the Kentex fire. Occurring less than two weeks after Labor Day, the tragedy has highlighted the fatal consequences of a system that puts profit before people. It also shows the failure of the government to fulfill its legally binding human rights commitments to workers.

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Thirty-six or more than half of the total number of fatalities were women who, like many other Filipino workers, suffer the exploitative terms of contractual labor – below minimum wages, oppressive working conditions, job insecurity and the absence of social security and health benefits, among others – if only to survive on a daily basis.

Contractualization has become an established trend under the agenda of neoliberal globalization, and a direction that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is also taking in the pursuit of unhampered economic growth that has enriched private businesses and a handful of individuals. We should guard against and protect ourselves from the impact of the ASEAN economic integration. This agenda has been proven most exploitative of women’s cheaply paid labor and the tendency to take on both waged and unwaged work in the face of unequal opportunities to decent work.

For women, the disadvantageous conditions of paid work represent an additional burdensome layer to the unpaid and invisible work that they typically render for male workers and their families. The discrimination against women that stems from systemic gender inequalities is constantly reproduced through gender-based gaps in opportunities to education, training and decent jobs; to enjoying a living wage; in secure terms of employment, etc., and in the persistence of harassment and violence against women in the workplace, and in society at large.

We call on the government through its relevant agencies to comply with due diligence and account for their commitments under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Magna Carta of Women Act of 2009. The right to work is in inalienable right that includes:

The right to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure, fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work.
The right to decent living for workers and their families.
The right to just, safe and healthy working conditions; the right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of women’s reproductive and health rights.
The right to rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.
The right to form associations or organizations for the protection and fulfillment of human rights.
The right to access justice and seek adequate and effective remedies for violations of cultural, social and economic human rights.

We join the call for justice for the Kentex workers and their families. We demand just compensation for all victims and families of the factory fire. The guilty owners and management of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation, including CJC Manpower Services hold criminal and civil liability and must be punished. We take The Department of Labor and Employment to account to ensure decent wage for all workers. We call on all women workers to organize and mobilize and be at the frontlines in claiming their rights.

Justice for the Kentex workers and their families! Respect, protect and fulfill women’s human rights!

Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc.
21 May 2015

Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. (WLB)
Room 305 College of Social Work and Community Development Building
Magsaysay Avenue, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines 1101
E-mail addresses: womenslegalbureau@yahoo.com; womenslegalbureau@gmail.com
Telefax number: (63-2) 921-4389
Skype ID: womenslegalbureau

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