THE more than100,000-strong socialist labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
A labor group on Thursday said it was holding Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz liable for the death of 72 workers in the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. fire in Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) last May 6.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), through its chairman Leody de Guzman, called for Baldoz’s resignation, tagging her as the “prime culprit” owing to her allegedly anti-labor policies.
He warned that the supposedly 10,000-strong BMP, together with allied organizations Sanlakas and Partido Lakas ng Masa, will not rest if Baldoz does not voluntarily resign from her post or if the Aquino administration opts to coddle her.
The Labor chief’s defense last week of the issuance to Kentex management of a certificate of compliance with labor and safety standards is “insignificant compared to the damage inflicted by her policies,” de Guzman said.
Her cited as among the illegal policies and department orders issued by Baldoz Department Orders (DOs) 18-A in 2011 and 131-13 in 2013.
De Guzman claimed that DO 18-A paved the way for legalization of sub-contracting, even if it is contrary to the Constitution and the Labor Code.
He said this order also opened the flood gates to pervasive unfair labor practices that resulted in proliferation of so-called sweatshops nationwide.
DO 131-13 said factories and other establishments are presumed safe until proven unsafe.
Earlier, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza also expressed a similar sentiment, saying the Labor department is also accountable for giving Kentex an occupational health and safety standard compliance certificate in September 2014.
Investigations by the Bureau of Fire Protection has shown that Kentex was operating without a fire safety clearance permit.
It was also reported that the plant lacked stairway exit and fire alarm and sprinkler systems; and failed to recondition its unserviceable fire extinguishers and conduct fire drills and fire safety seminars at least twice a year.
Meanwhile, Baldoz said families of the fire victims may claim employee compensation benefits even if their kin were not enrolled with the Social Security System.
“I assure the worker-victims that as long as there is an employer-employee relationship, a worker can file an employees’ compensation claim from any SSS branch,” she added.