January 28, 2011
The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms in response to the accident at the Eton construction yesterday that claimed the lives of 10 workers and injured one. “This is a workplace massacre that is worse than the Makati terrorist bus bombing. Heads must roll and justice must be served for the needless deaths of 10 workers,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.
PM lambasted employers for cutting corners in occupational safety in order to raise profits and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the lax implementation of labor and safety standards. “While capitalists were scrimping on protection for workers and DOLE was sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace,” Magtubo elaborated.
He claimed that “Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards.”
“Under the regime of the DOLE’s self-assessment program, the number of labor inspectors have shrunk from around 240 to less than 200 and the number of establishments inspected plummeted from 60,000 in 2003 to just 6,000 last year. Self-assessment means that the government is asking the wolf to guard the sheep. No wonder the sheep get slaughtered,” Magtubo criticized.
He recommended that “We propose that the DOLE deputize labor leaders as labor inspectors. In so doing the number of inspectors and inspections can be increase several fold overnight, enforcement can be strengthened immediately, and workers lives and limbs can be saved.”
Magtubo added that “DOLE must review Eton and its contractors for compliance not just with safety regulations but labor standards such as payment of minimum wages and benefits, observance of working hours and remittance of social security among others. Construction workers are among the most overworked yet underpaid of employees since they are generally unorganized.”
“The DOLE has again been caught sleeping on the job as in the case of the nurses charged by exorbitant on-the-job fees. This abusive practice could have been deterred if the DOLE had inspected hospitals and fined them appropriately,” Magtubo said.