Partial privatization of labor inspection, weak certification process and the endemic problem of corruption down to the local levels have consigned workers to precarious working conditions, including unnecessary deaths and accidents, the labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.
The statement was issued in reaction to the statements made by the lawyer of Kentex Corp. and the labor department that the company has been compliant with safety standards.
Also this morning, members of Nagkaisa such as the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sentro ng Nakakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) offered flowers as an expression of sympathy and solidarity for the dead workers at the Kentex factory in Valenzuela City.
In a protest rally held afterwards, labor groups reiterated their call that aside from compensation, criminal liabilities be exacted among the perpetrators of this terrible crime, including the violation of other labor standards at Kentex.
According to Nagkaisa convenor Josua Mata, the relaxation of labor inspection through “self-assessment” under DOLE’s Department Order No. 57-04 has rendered toothless the supposedly tough safety standards required in workplaces.
The conduct of self-assessment, according to Mata, is voluntary and is based from a labor standard checklist conducted by representatives of employers and workers.
“This partial privatization of labor inspection promoted evasion rather than voluntary compliance, while self-assessment conducted by the management in generally non-unionized workplace simply won’t work,” said Mata.
This self-assessment, according to TUCP, is followed by a weaker compliance certification process under the jurisdiction of DOLE’s regional offices.
On his part, Partido Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo noted that the DOLE’s “Labor Laws Compliance System” (LLCS) inaugurated in 2013 and the hike in the number of labor inspectors to almost 600 is still not working. An audit by the International Labor Organization in 2009 revealed that with only 193 labor inspectors to inspect 784,000 companies, an establishment gets inspected only once every 16 years.
“A big loophole in the so-called LLCS is the focus on ‘voluntary compliance’ and ‘self-assessment’ by employers. Voluntary compliance and self-assessment means that the government is asking the wolf to guard the sheep. No wonder the sheep get slaughtered,” Magtubo lamented.
BMP President Leody De Guzman averred that endemic corruption at all levels aggravates the problem of compliance.
“Regulatory capture has always been the antidote to strict compliance to regulation in this country,” said De Guzman.