Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Department of Labor and Employment is focusing its own probe into the labor standards and occupational safety and health aspects of the fire accident at the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation last 13 May 2015 so as not to duplicate parallel investigations by relevant government agencies.
“We are focused only on these two aspects, in the light of the many investigations on the accident looking into the enforcement, observance, and monitoring of compliance with, among other laws and regulations, the Fire Code of the Philippines; National Building and Structural Code; Philippine Electrical Code; Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Code; and the Local Government Code,” Secretary Baldoz said.
“Focus on OSH and general labor standards.” This was the instruction I issued to Regional Director Alex Avila of the DOLE National Capital Region in the conduct of a mandatory conference to gather the facts surrounding the fire accident,” Baldoz said.
She stated that the first of the two mandatory conferences had been concluded yesterday and that Avila had reported its results.
On general labor standards, the labor and employment chief said the DOLE had gathered and established the following:
(1) CJC Manpower Services, a subcontractor of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation, is not registered with the DOLE as a legitimate subcontractor under D.O. 18-A. “This corroborates the result of the joint assessment by the DOLE Regional Office No. 3 of CJC Manpower Services last Friday, 15 May,” she said.
(2) The subcontractor was not paying the correct wages and benefits of its workers; and was not remitting the social security benefits of its workers to the Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig.
“Regional Director Ana Dione of our Regional Office in Central Luzon reported that based on the joint assessment, CJC has been underpaying its workers, including not paying the cost of living allowance under Wage Order No. NCR-18 and Wage Order No. NCR-19. Its workers deployed at Kentex Manufacturing Corporation were being paid only P202.50 per day, because it claimed that Kentex has been paying them separately P230 per day. However, no payroll can support the said claim,” said Baldoz, citing the report.
She said other CJC violations include the non-payment of 13th month pay for 2014; non-payment of holiday pay and special holiday premium; illegal deduction for cash bond; non-membership of workers and irregular or almost non-remittance of premiums to SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig Fund, despite deductions on pay for these social security contributions.
Baldoz further said the DOLE has found out that CJC’s last remittance to the SSS was on 8 April 2015 for January 2015 premiums covering only 19 workers, none of whom were employed at Kentex Manufacturing Corporation.
“Its last Pag-Ibig remittance was on 6 May 2015 for February 2015 contributions covering a mere 13 workers, only four of whom were deployed at Kentex. On the other hand, it last remitted PhilHealth premiums on 25 March 2015 for February 2015 premiums unbelievably covering six workers, only three of whom were deployed at the rubber slipper factory,” Secretary Baldoz said.
On occupational safety and health standards, Avila reported to Baldoz this will be the focus of the second mandatory conference, since no representative from Kentex Manufacturing Corporation was around to answer questions during the first mandatory conference.
“Kentex Manufacturing Corporation did not attend the conference, despite receiving the official notice, as records of the DOLE NCR would show. So the second conference is on Wednesday. If the company fails to attend, then, it will be construed that it has waived its right to be heard,” said Baldoz.
Also during the first conference, Baldoz said the DOLE has established that CJC Manpower Services has four other principals to where it has deployed 23 more workers for various positions.
“Director Avila has ordered these principals to be jointly assessed,” she explained.
The four principals that CJC Manpower Services admitted it is engaged with, and the number of workers it has deployed are Tempco Valenzuela Glass Corporation, one production worker; Toyo Machine, two production operators; ADLC Rubber Corporation, 20 production “helpers”; and Ultra Plus, eight “helpers”.
“CJC representatives, namely, Gilbert Mallari, liason manager, and George Dimayuga, adviser-consultant of CJC owner John Cyren Villafuerte, who is only a 19-year old student, and a nephew of Dimayuga, admitted it has no written agreements with these four principals and has no employment contracts with its 23 workers, in the same manner that it has no written contract with Kentex and employment contracts with its workers deployed to the rubber slipper manufacturer,” Baldoz revealed.
“In fact, it didn’t hire the 99 workers it admitted to have deployed to Kentex between April 2014 and the date of occurrence of the fire accident. Kentex just ‘assigned’ this to the sub-contractor. In short, CJC is a dummy of Kentex,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief said the DOLE-NCR can already evaluate the results of the mandatory conferences, including the documents and statements it obtained, and the interviews it had conducted, and thereafter issue a Compliance Order to both the subcontractor and Kentex.
“The compliance order, an exercise of lawful authority, should already detail all the money accountabilities of Kentex and its subcontractor,” said Baldoz.
Over the weekend, Baldoz said the direct employer (Kentex) faces possible liabilities and remedies and compensation, such as administrative liability, specifically, solidary liability with the contractor or subcontractor (CJC) for any violation of any provision of the Labor Code; criminal liability, specifically, reckless imprudence resulting to multiple injury and multiple homicide; violation of the Fire Code; violation of the National Building Code; arson (if it is established that the factory owner/s started the fire); and criminal liability, under Art. 288 of the Labor Code for possible violation of labor standards, occupational safety and health standards, and social legislations.
“The company could also face civil liability, specifically, actual damages (medical expenses, etc.); moral damages; and exemplary damages,” she said.