Media Release 28 December 2017 The labour rights organization, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) today calls to hold the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) and the Davao city government to account for the 38 workers who were burned to death at Davao NCCC mall fire on Christmas day.  This should also prompt the authorities to inpect diligently all BPO facilities in the country as call center workers noted that companies often refuse inspections to avoid work delays. A survivor interviewed in TV noted that many could have escaped the raging fire had the fire alarm sounded even two minutes earlier and there was proper fire exits.  The Survey Sampling International (SSI), a business process outsourcing (BPO) company facility located at the 4th floor of Davao NCCC is PEZA registered. “This painfully reminded the hundreds of workers  unaccounted and believed to have died at House Technology Inc (HTI) in Cavite and  36 deaths at Resorts World Manila (RWM), all happened this year.  At Resorts World fire investigation, it was  noted that all these loss of lives could have prevented if PEZA and other government units had done their responsibilities diligently and could have seen the companies violations of safety standards.  Corporations violating safety standards should be held  criminally liable. No amount of so-called burial or even livelihood assistance given to the bereaved families should compensate such injustice nor absolve them from accountability,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said. These companies (SSI, HTI and RWM)  are all PEZA registered which mandated to inspect the safety of the plant, building structure/facility/utility , including electro mechanical equipment and other installations before accreditation or permit to operate is handed.  Had the inspections conducted factored in the building structure that is  already 14 years old? CTUHR also said that while it mourns the deaths and condoles with the families of victims who had skipped celebrating Christmas in order to work, it is enraged that gross negligence had sent these call center workers to unjustly death. It also calls for a thorough and independent investigation to the accident, and the urgent passage of the Occupational Safety Bill (House Bill 64) now idly sitting at the Senate.  HB 64  pushes for mandatory  inspection in all workplaces across the country, including those located in ecozones, and imposes stiffer penalties on on erring companies resulting to work-related deaths. CTUHR reminded and cautioned authorities  not to replicate all  previous investigations that went for naught as no one was held accountable nor  punished since Kentex fire in 2015.  Prior to this incident, it could be recalled that eight women workers were also killed in a blaze at t ST Micro in Pasay, 16 women workers including a pregnant woman in  2013 Novo Jeans fire in Butuan city. “Unsafe workplaces are not only wasting the lives of those who laboured for corporations that only look at profits the workers create, but also the families dependent on the income of these workers. Until and unless compliance to safety standards is voluntary and no stronger law is passed and implemented honestly and diligently, workplace fire will happen again and  smack any so called economic growth that the government is pursuing”, Arago ended.#    

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