• 4 DOLE officials under probe over Kentex permit

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    THE head of the Department of Labor and Employment-National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) office and three other officers were placed under investigation for issuing a certificate of compliance (COC) to Kentex Manufacturing Corp. even as the firm did not comply with government labor and occupational safety and health standards.

    Kentex is footwear factory in Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) that was gutted by fire last May 6. The blaze left 72 workers dead and several others injured.

    Placed under probe were DOLE-NCR Regional Director Alex Avila, Camanava Field Officer Director Andrea Cabansag, labor laws compliance officer and engineer Joseph Vedasto and assisting LLCO Danilo Tolentino.

    Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Sunday disclosed that the four officials were deemed responsible for the issuance of the questionable COC to Kentex.

    The Bureau of Fire Protection has found that Kentex was operating without a fire safety clearance permit.

    It was also discovered that the plant lacked stairway exits and fire alarm and sprinkler systems; and failed to recondition its unserviceable fire extinguishers, conduct fire drills and fire safety seminars.

    Kentex had hired an illegal sub-contractor, CJC Manpower Services, which was also found to be shortchanging the workers by non-payment of correct wages and benefits and non-remittance of workers’ contributions to the Social Security System, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG fUND in violation of labor standards.

    Baldoz said she had ordered Avila to submit a written explanation on the issuance of the Kentex COC.

    She added that she had asked for records of all technical safety inspection (TSI) permits issued by DOLE regional offices in 2014 and the list of LLCOs who conducted technical inspections in the same year.

    The Labor chief warned employers to put a “full stop” to “sweatshop” practices and transform their plants and factories into decent workplaces by complying with all labor laws.

    Under a department order, Baldoz placed all manufacturing establishments nationwide under the Special Assessment or Visit of Establishments (SAVE).

    Issued on July 30, 2014, SAVE is an exercise of the visitorial powers of the DOLE secretary under Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended, ordering a special assessment of an establishment to determine compliance with labor laws and occupational health and safety standards.

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