Aquino and Kentex Must Be Held Accountable for Tragedy which Killed 72 Workers
With a heavy heart, BAYAN-USA sends its condolences to the victims and families of the workers of the Kentex Manufacturing Inc. factory in Valenzuela, Philippines, where 72 workers perished and many more remain missing after a lethal fire at the unsafe plant.
Not only were the workers victimized by the oppressive working conditions while they toiled at the factory and then the fire which claimed their lives, but their memories and families are now being doubly-oppressed by the Aquino government, which has only sought to protect the Kentex owners rather than obtain justice for the workers. Department of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had the gall to state that the government issued a Certificate of Compliance on 18 September 2014 to Kentex, in an apparent attempt to absolve the company of responsibility for the deaths of its workers.
Pronouncements of compliance with safety standards are worthless when reality shows that the Kentex factory was a death trap, with windows sealed shut by iron grills and insufficient fire exits for building occupants.
While the World Bank designated Valenzuela as one of the most “business friendly” cities in the Philippines, this translated directly into hazardous and oppressive workplace conditions for workers at Kentex. This comes as no surprise, as Aquino’s government has shown since 2010 that it will sacrifice the health, safety and lives of working people in order to maintain its friendly relations with big business.
We support the call of Kilusang Mayo Uno for a National Day of Mourning for the 72 workers of Kentex who were killed in the worst factory fire in Philippine history. Adding to his many other failures as an executive in protecting Filipino workers, including OFW Mary Jane Veloso, and overall inaction and lack of remorse, we call on Aquino to step down. We join the families of those killed in calling for justice and accountability, and we will use our grief to strengthen our fight humane working conditions for all people.