ORGANIZED labor has called for the revival of the power vested on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) secretary to inspect factories and workplaces without notice to ensure employers’ compliance with labor standards, particularly on health and safety in the workplace.
The Association of Labor Unions (ALU) and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) made the call in the wake of the massive fire that gutted the three-story building of Housing Technology Industry (HTI) inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone in Gen. Trias City, Cavite that left 104 workers injured, some of them in critical condition from severe burns.
ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said that the HTI incident was reminiscent of the deadly fire that razed Kentex rubber factory in Valenzuela in May 2015 which killed 74 workers and injured dozens others.
“Because a vast number of employers are not complying with the basic standards on safety and health policies including general labor standards, there is an urgent need now to bring back to the labor secretary and to his or her deputized labor officials the power already vested in them by the Philippine Labor Code. This is the power to enter privately owned factories and workplaces anytime to enforce labor laws and ensure compliance with standards,” Tanjusay said.
“Labor laws have been advertently relaxed by DOLE for quite some time to accommodate employers and management interests at the expense of workers’ deaths, injury and oppression,” he added.
He admitted though that in the case of establishments located inside Economic Processing Zone Areas (EPZA) where factories enjoy special privileges, inspection for labor and workplace standard compliance is doubly difficult.
The DOLE is currently enforcing the Labor Law Compliance System (LLCS) policy which allows employers particularly those who are non-compliant to voluntarily comply with the general and occupational safety and health standards being implemented in all DOLE regional offices nationwide since 2012.
Under the LLCS, the DOLE labor inspectors are called labor compliance officers who need written authority from the labor secretary to conduct an assessment of the workplace.
However, labor compliance officers may be refused entry by management for various reasons. If refused entry into the premises, the compliance officers would have to write and inform the management that assessment would be conducted in the next few days.