EILER hails passage of landmark OSH law

Non-compliance with fire safety and occupational health and safety laws of employers in the Philippines has led to tragedies in workplaces. In 2015, one of the biggest fire tragedies killed 72 workers of Kentex Manufacturing Inc., a slippers sweatshop in Valenzuela City.

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization, hailed the passage of Republic Act 11058 or the Philippine Occupational Safety and Health Law.

The Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) amended the Labor Code of the Philippines and now penalizes violations of OSH standards for up to PHP 100,000 per day of non-correction of violation.

“This is a landmark victory for the Filipino workers. Employers that foster poor working conditions resulting to gross violations of labor rights, and worse, workers’ deaths can now be penalized. The challenge now is for the labor department, by virtue of RA 11058, to inspect all workplaces including establishments located inside Philippine economic zones,” said Rochelle Porras, EILER executive director.

EILER previously criticized the Department of Labor and Employment and its Labor Laws Compliance System for failing to inspect workplace conditions inside the Philippine economic “Death Zones,” and encouraging only the voluntary compliance of business owners. The labor NGO noted that the laxity of government agencies on enforcing OSH standards have resulted to tragic deaths in workplaces of Eton (Makati City, 2011), Kentex factory (Valenzuela City, 2015), Housing Technology Industries (Cavite, 2017), NCCC Mall (Davao, 2017), J.E. Abraham C. Lee Construction (Cebu, 2018), and many more.

We sincerely recognize the heroes of economic development, the workers who have persistently lobbied for stricter penalties for employers’ violations of occupational safety and health standards. We also laud Gabriela Women’s Partylist who principally authored House Bill 64 Occupational Safety and Health Bill. Sadly, provisions on mandatory inspection, workers’ right to refuse work in an unsafe workplace and criminalization of OSH violations were not carried over by its senate counterpart,” Porras said.

“Today, we celebrate this milestone and we also remember the workers who suffered from work-related injuries and deaths. We express solidarity with their families in their quest for justice. We stand with the workers in their struggle for the protection of dignity at work, living wages, and enforcement of all OSH regulations,” Porras concluded.

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