DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A labor rights group dared on Wednesday the government’s labor department to implement properly the recently signed Occupational Safety and Health Law which they described as a “landmark victory for all Filipino workers.”
Rochelle Porras, director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), said the passage of the law ensures that “poor working conditions resulting to gross violation of labor rights and worse, working deaths can now be penalized.”
“The challenge now is for the labor department, by virtue of RA 11058, to inspect all workplaces including establishments located inside Philippine Economic zones,” Poras said in a statement.
It can be recalled that EILER previously lambasted the labor department after it failed to inspect the workplace conditions inside the Philippine economic Zones. Porra’s group, in particular, scored Dole’s “voluntary assessment” monitoring of workplace, saying such practice is not working and only put the workers’ lives in peril while working in hazardous conditions.
Porras said the labor department’s practice had caused tragic incidents in the past. She cited the Eton incident in Makati City back in 2011, Valenzuela City’s Kentex Factory incident in 2015, the Housing Technology Industries in Cavite in 2017 and in the same year, the NCCC Mall fire incident in Davao and for 2018, the J.E. Abraham C. Lee Construction in Cebu.
“We sincerely recognize the heroes of economic development, the workers who have persistently lobbied for stricter penalties for employers’ violations of occupational safety and health standards,” she said while lauding the Gabriela Women’s Partylist that principally authored the House Bill 64 Occupational Safety and Health Bill.
However, Porras lamented that “the provisions on mandatory inspection, workers’ right to refuse work in an unsafe workplace and criminalization of OSH violations were not carried over by its senate counterpart.”
President Rodrigo Duterte signed on August 17 the Republic Act 11058 otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Hazards.” The law orders employers, contractors and subcontractors to ensure that the workers’ workplace are “free from hazardous conditions that are causing or are likely to cause death, illness, or physical harm to workers.”
Violation of the law imposes a hefty fine of P100, 000 per day against the employer, contractor or subcontractor. The amount, as provided by the law, would be counted from the day that the employer was informed of such violation.
“Today, we celebrate this milestone and we also remember the workers who suffered from work-related injuries and deaths. We express solidarity with their families in their quest for justice. We stand with the workers in their struggle for the protection of dignity at work, living wages, and enforcement of all OSH regulations,” Porras said.(davaotoday.com)