• Labor chief orders work stoppage at ‘crackers firms

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    CITING grave and imminent danger, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued a work stoppage order against all establishments engaged in the manufacture and sale of pyrotechnics and firecrackers.

    Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Thursday issued the order in the wake of a series of accidents that hit the firecrackers industry recently, which left five people dead and 30 others injured.

    On Wednesday, two young children and their mother died while six others were wounded in a blast at AA Firecracker Manufacturing at Sitio Bangka-Bangkaan, Barangay Pulong Buhangin in Santa Maria, Bulacan.

    On October 12, two persons also died, including a firecrackers store owner, and 24 other were injured in a massive explosion at a group of fireworks shops in Barangay Binang 1st, Bocaue also in Bulacan.

    “In view of the aforementioned accidents and with the projected increase in production during holidays, this department is inclined to declare the existence of grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers in workplaces involved in the production of pyrotechnics and firecrackers,” the order said.

    Bello’s work stoppage order is pursuant to Rule 1012.02 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards in relation to Article 168 of the Labor Code, as amended, and Rule VIII of Department Order No.131-B.

    Also, Bello instructed the concerned DOLE regional director, with technical assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Center and Bureau of Working Conditions, to assess compliance with occupational safety and health standards and ge­ne­ral labor standards in establishments in coordination with the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and local government units.

    The Labor secretary said he may lift the order on compliant establishments based on recommendation of the
    DOLE regional director, who shall submit weekly reports of assessment activities.

    He added that assistance would be provided to workers who would be affected by the work stoppage order.
    Meanwhile, police have arrested Wilfredo Alonzo, owner of AA Fireworks factory, and filed charges against him over the massive explosion at AA Firecracker Manufacturing in Santa Maria, Bulacan.

    Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., acting Bulacan police director, said Alonzo faces cases of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to property aside from violations of Republic Act 7183 or the Firecracker Law.

    Alonzo is now under the custody of the Santa Maria police, he added.

    Killed in the Wednesday’s explosion were siblings Ashley Mayo, 2, and Brylee, 5.

    Their mother, Mary Grace Mayo, 28, died later in a hospital.

    The kids were brought by the mother to bring food for their father, Benjie Mayo, 29, who works at the factory.
    The explosion also damaged four houses and a car within the vicinity.

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