Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz
(Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz issues the following after a fire has razed the plant of slippers manufacturer, Kentex Manufacturing Corporation, on 6159 Tatalon, Brgy. Ugong, Valenzuela City, killing 54 workers, as of press time, and resulting to several others still missing.)
“I express my deepest sympathies to the families of the 54 workers who were killed and of the still undetermined still missing in a fire at the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City yesterday. This is a sad day for the DOLE, a workplace tragedy that diminishes us all. We pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the victims.
“The DOLE will ensure that the victims and their families will receive social and labor justice. Through the Bureau of Working Conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Center, and the DOLE National Capital Region, the DOLE will conduct a fast investigation to get to the bottom of the accident, with the view of establishing accountability and responsibility.
“At the moment, we cannot enter the accident site/premises and conduct an investigation because we have deferred to the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine National Police’s Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) Unit, which have primary responsibility in this kind of incident. We will follow suit after fire and police authorities have concluded their mopping up operation and investigation. Our Labor Laws Compliance Officers are on stand-by at the factory.
“Initially, from field reports of our regional office, we knew that the deadly fire was caused by welding works in the main gate of the factory.
“As of press time, the DOLE-NCR is still coordinating with company management with regards the latter’s financial obligations to the victims and the benefits it will provide to their families. I have tasked Regional Director Alex Avila to review the existing collective bargaining agreement of the workers’ union and the company to determine the benefits due to the workers.
“On top of these financial obligations and benefits, the workers are also entitled to other social security benefits of the Social Security System, the PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG.
“The DOLE, through its Employment Compensation Commission, is ready to provide whatever assistance may be necessary, including employees’ compensation program benefits, to the families of the victims, as well as to the survivors of the fire.
“The families of each of the worker who died in the tragedy will receive P20,000 in funeral benefit and death pension benefit, depending on the worker’s last salary, from the Social Security System which holds in trust the ECC trust fund. For the survivors who need to be hospitalized, they will be entitled to medical or hospital benefits and sickness benefit of up to 120 days at a maximum of P200 per day. Those who were injured are entitled to free rehabilitation, and as may be necessary, prosthesis. The ECC also has livelihood and skills training for those who may not be able to work anymore. For those who may suffer from disability because of the tragedy, the ECC will process fast their ECC pension or lump sum compensation depending on the disability.
“By way of background, Kentex Manufacturing Corporation has been found to be compliant with general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards after a joint assessment by our Labor Laws Compliance Officers under the new Labor Laws Compliance System. The DOLE-NCR issued the company a Certificate of Compliance on 18 September 2014. It has a safety committee, with a union member representative, that implements safety rules and regulations.
“Also, the DOLE-NCR has conducted a technical inspection of the company on 30 January 2014, during which the factory’s boilers used for heating have been found to be in satisfactory condition.
“Kentex is a unionized establishment and its workers union, the Kentex Independent Workers Union, headed by Sally Ungod, president, has a collective bargaining agreement with management effective 28 April 2012 to 28 April 2017. The union has 33 members out of the company’s 54 workers. It also has a sub-contractor, based in Bulacan.”