Labor groups on Tuesday chided employers who maintained a business as usual attitude by allowing their employees to continue working and expose them to danger despite the risk caused by the powerful 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook many offices, factories and other places of work during working hours Monday.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and Partido Lakas ng Masa said that many establishments owners did not follow procedures for disaster risk, by preventing their employees to vacate the building and even ordered them to return to work despite the dangers and hazards on the workplace caused by the quake.
“These companies practice or policy is a form of abuse and it must be condemned because it imperils the lives of their employees and jeopardizes the safety and health of workers,” TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said.
For his part, Leody de Guzman of the Partido Lakas ng Masa urged the government to investigate and punish ‘capitalists’ who show more regard for their profit and property over the lives of their employees.
He said it is the obligation of employers and business-owners to ensure that their employees are safe and secure during workplace disasters such as earthquake, fire and other risky incidents.
The labor groups said that a number of employers and business enterprises followed the safety rules who made sure their employees were safe and secure by utilizing in-house safety evacuation protocols following the commotion created by the quake.
“We thank those employers whose top of mind were to safely secure their employees and take them out of harm’s way by way of bringing them to safer place before they were advised to go home,” Mendoza said.
Meanwhile, following the aftermath of the earthquake, he said that it should be the obligation of the employers and the responsibility of the business-owners to inspect their workplace for possible damage caused by the tremor to prevent future workplace catastrophe.
“It is possible that the damage may not be immediately obvious but it already impacted the integrity of the workplace structure and may cause irreparable damage upon aftershocks and future earthquakes. So it is important for employers to double check the work site for damages immediately after Monday’s event,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza also reminded workers that under the Republic Act 11058 otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” signed into law on November 2018, workers have the right to refuse to work if they know that the workplace is unsafe to work in.
“Workers now have the right to refuse to work in an unsafe workplace. If workers were forced to work despite of the notice of unsafe workplace, employers, contractors, and business-owners are administratively liable,” Mendoza said.
Under RA 11058, employers, contractors, or subcontractors who fail to comply will be meted a fine, ranging from P20,000 to P50,000 depending on the administrative violation committed.