KMU urges govt to inspect special economic zone locators nationwide

Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) called on the government to conduct a nationwide workplace inspection in special economic zones (SEZ) after the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) was hit by another fire incident last week.

“We demand an immediate, independent and mandatory Fire Safety, Occupational Health and Safety and Labor Standards inspection in all companies inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone and in all Special Economic Zones all over the country,” KMU Secretary-General Jerome Adonis said.

Last Friday two facilities owned by House Technologies Inc. (HTI) and Scad Services, its sister company, were charred by a blaze.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fires.

According to the local government of Cavite, no casualty was recorded from the latest fire incidents within the HTI’s compound.

Adonis, however, said the fire incidents within the SEZs is getting alarming as they endanger the lives of workers.

Last year five HTI workers died and hundreds were injured after a fire gutted one of its facilities in CEPZ.

Meanwhile, 37 employees also perished from the gutted NCCI mall in Davao City last month. The NCCI mall has a SEZ.

KMU blamed the fire incidents to the failure of the government to enforce the Fire Code and occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) especially within SEZs.

“The government has fully offered workers’ lives in the altar of super profits for big foreign businesses in special economic zones by allowing them to run their own kingdom free of any government regulation and inspection. Hence, these economic zones have turned into death zones for thousands of Filipino workers,” Adonis said.

To prevent similar cases from recurring, Adonis added the Department of Labor and Employment should finally scrap voluntary compliance and self-inspection for establishments.

He also said the Senate should also act on the pending occupational safety and health bill, which will provide stiffer sanctions against companies violating OSHS.

“The government’s failure to heed these demands will make workers vulnerable to yet another workplace tragedy. We will hold President Duterte fully responsible should another worker die in their workplace,” Adonis added.

 

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