CABUYAO, LAGUNA – As the House of Representatives tackle today the tragic Kentex factory fire, Tanduay workers urged the Aquino government to put an end to contractualization, saying that this is the “only way to give justice to the 72 victims of the tragedy.”
The Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA) also condemned the Aquino government’s inutile moves in resolving labor disputes in favor of workers. In the case of the Kentex workers, the Department of Labor and Employment, the local government units involved, the Bureau of Fire and Protection, and the Kentex management has yet to be held accountable for the lack of occupational safety standards in the factory. The company’s compensation of only P8,000 for the workers’ families is also a “deliberate insult to injury”, TUDLA said.
“Contractualization killed the Kentex workers. It is a crime that both the government and private companies are guilty of committing for decades now. We do not want to end up dead, neither do we want to be dying every day due to the lack of wages, absence of benefits and job security,” Dante Ragasa, Vice-president of TUDLA said. He added that the reason why the Tanduay workers have been on strike for three days now is for their demand for regularization because of Lucio Tan and DoLE’s “consent of practicing the crime of Labor Only Contracting” (LOC). For 5 to 11 years, the 397 workers of Tanduay Distillers Inc. remain contractual and their families in dismal poverty.
“We are suprised with how fast and frequent Asia Brewery’s fire department bomb us with water cannons when there is no fire to begin with. They could have done a better job in Valenzuela when the whole Kentex factory was engulfed with flames,” Ragasa stressed. At least 3 to 5 times each day, security groups attempt to disperse the picket line through water cannons from fire trucks within a compound. Other security guards whom the workers consider as “hired goons” since they only arrived when the strike began, also throw rocks and glass bottles to the picket line which already injured 50 workers and supporters as of press time.
“Lucio Tan’s desperation in dispersing our picket line through violence exposes further his insatiable greed and indifference to the calls of the workers. Our principled unity and the support of the people will further strengthen our cause until victory,” Ragasa said.
Meanwhile, Ariel Velasquez, Chairperson of Liga ng mga Manggagawa Para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA), highlighted that 70% to 80% of workers throughout industrial factories in Southern Tagalog remain contractual – most of which are run by agencies practicing LOC. “Because of widespread contractualization, safety standards for workers are neglected. Such as what happened to the Kentex workers, a lot of factories in the region do not provide proper Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) to avoid hazardous incidents inside the workplace,” Velasquez said. In the case of the Tanduay workers, they are obligated to buy their own PPE which is deducted from their already meager wages.
Early this morning, three buses full of scabs were reportedly escorted by the Philippine National Police –Cabuyao inside the Tanduay factory. TUDLA stresses this is an attempt by Tanduay management to resume production as it already incurred an estimated loss of P30 million worth of products since the strike began. #