On HTI Factory fire: Women WISE3 urges thorough, independent and independent investigation

“Noong makalabas na ako sa building, nakita ko ang ibang mga manggagawa, karamihan ay babae, na tumatalon mula sa bintana ng 2nd at 3rd floor. Mayroon pa ngang buntis.”(When I was already out of the building, I saw workers, mostly women, including a pregnant woman jumping out of the window from the 2nd and 3rd floor.), a survivor recounted.

Women WISE3 expresses strong concern over these accounts, the company and the authorities seem indifferent about those allegations. A week after the huge fire that gutted the House Technology Industries in Rosario Cavite, a credible probe has not been conducted and doubts over no fatalities except those two male workers who died in the hospital linger. Gov. Remulla reiterated several times that only 126 were injured, accounts say otherwise.

Advertisements

 

“Noong makalabas na ako sa building, nakita ko ang ibang mga manggagawa, karamihan ay babae, na tumatalon mula sa bintana ng 2nd at 3rd floor. Mayroon pa ngang buntis.”(When I was already out of the building, I saw workers, mostly women, including a pregnant woman jumping out of the window from the 2nd and 3rd floor.), a survivor recounted.

Women WISE3 expresses strong concern over these accounts, the company and the authorities seem indifferent about those allegations. A week after the huge fire that gutted the House Technology Industries in Rosario Cavite, a credible probe has not been conducted and doubts over no fatalities except those two male workers who died in the hospital linger. Gov. Remulla reiterated several times that only 126 were injured, accounts say otherwise.

Last February 4-5, 2017, a multisectoral National Fact-Finding Mission (NFFM) led by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) was conducted to investigate the incident. Initial NFMM report raised concerns over a number of workers, witnesses and survivors who were hesitant, often evasive to answer inquiries related to the tragedy. The report also notes that two important things contradictory to the official (local government) reports given to the media: (1) Accounts underscored that were workers more women who were trapped inside the building during the panic, (2) there were exits which were locked, and workers from the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building resorted to breaking windows to get out.

The findings also indicated that the contractual or agency-hired workers were not included in the head count conducted contrary to the company claims that “all workers were accounted for”. Testimonies from survivors also suggest that more women workers may have been trapped in the 3rd floor of the building, as there are more women working in the Quality Control department. The list of those injured and eventually treated and confined at the hospital contains only 25 women out of 126 total injuries. While Women WISE3 would not desire negative impact for women, the allegations that more women jumped out of the window belie the official claim.

HTI, the biggest and acclaimed as“best” company in the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) or in Cavite as a whole was issued by PEZA a compliance certification. PEZA however did not say, what does it require to be certified as compliant. Most probably, PEZA does not cover the fact that casuals directly hired by HTI have to transferred to six manpower agencies after 3 months to become agency workers for as long as two years. When they passed the evaluation that it was only then that workers could be rehired by HTI. There are about 13,000 plus workers at HTI, of whom 5,000 more are contractuals. Contractual or agency-hired are overworked and are deprived of same benefits that regular workers receive.

In 2013, fire also hit the company but as the same, the company, PEZA and LGU kept mum over the incident.

Industrial fires, like in Kentex Manufacturing Corp in 2015 and the HTI fire, are never just accidents. But until and unless, inspection and compliance are voluntary on the part of the company, workers occupational safety and health will be compromised. OSH standards have to be legally enforced.

On February 10, Women WISE3 joined its fellow workers and workers’ rights advocates in a protest action at the Welcome Rotondain Quezon City to call for justice for the victims of the fire in the House Technology Industries. Women WISE3 also supports the demand for an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation on the HTI fire, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for this tragedy.#

Women WISE3 joins OBR for Kentex fire victims, survivors

21 February 2016

Showing solidarity in the fight for justice for victims of the biggest factory fire in the history of the country, Women Workers in Struggle for Employment Empowerment and Emancipation (Women WISE3) danced one billion rising with the  Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance last Feb. 16, in front of the Kentex factory compound in Valenzuela City.

IMG_0074
Eufemia Doringo (left) with other Women WISE3 members dance for justice for Kentex fire victims

Member of Women WISE3, Eufemia “Mimi” Doringo, who joined the action said, “We are one with the families of victims and the survivors of Kentex in the fight for justice.  What happened and the situation of Kentex workers mirrors the situation of many women workers in our country. We suffer from very low wages, precarious employment and face health risks in our
workplace.”

Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance with Kilusang Mayo Uno and Gabriela organized the One Billion Rising activity a few days after the ninth month commemoration of the Kentex Factory fire on Feb 13. OBR founder Eve Ensler and Filipina actress Monique WIlson were also in the activity echoing calls for justice by victims’ families and survivors.

The group also expressed dismay that cases filed before the courts by families of victims and survivors did not advance. “Like many cases of killings of workers, unionists and deaths due to workplace accidents, no one up to now is being held accountable for the mass murder of workers,” Doringo added.

Survivors and families of victims of the Kentex Factory fire filed criminal charges and labor cases against Kentex factory owners, and criminal and administrative charges against top government officials like DOLE Sec. Baldoz, DILG Sec. Mar Roxas among others. To date, criminal charges were transferred by the regional trial court to the DOJ while the Ombudsman has not taken action on the administrative charges filed against Baldoz et.al.

Groups hold One Billion Rising rising for Kentex Workers
Groups hold One Billion Rising rising for Kentex Workers

Doringo added that justice is not simply paying the families of the victims a few thousand pesos for the loss of their loved ones, instead, justice is when those responsible for the fire are held criminally liable for their negligence and wrongdoing.

“We salute the families and survivors that continue to fight for justice. We also urge the larger public and more workers to join their fight because the ill-fate of Kentex workers can also be the fate of many more workers if we do not stop fight a system that allow it.” Doringo said.###