IOHSAD is inspired and excited to be working with Political Science students of UP Manila in our research and advocacy projects for the first half of 2020. We are grateful to UP Professor JM Lanuza for trusting us to be part of their National Service Training Program (NSTP) class this semester. We are looking forward to exploring more creative ways on how to involve and engage the youth in promoting occupational safety and health rights. We will be posting updates on the progress of our projects and preparations for our major events this year – Workers Memorial Day (April 28) and Kentex fire tragedy 5th anniversary (May 13).
Listen to one of the groups read the poem “Sweatshop” written by Katrina Yamzon for the more than 72 workers who died in the Kentex fire tragedy five years ago. The students read this poem last February 5 as part of the worldwide celebration of World Read Aloud Day.
Bakas pa ang pawis sa sunog ng mga katawan. Pawis ng pagkaalipin ninyong aliping sahuran. Mababanaag sa mata niyo’y luha ng pagtangis At pag-asang aahon sa lusak ng malaong tiniis.
Umaalingawngaw pa ang panaghoy ng himutok Tila walang nakarinig sa sigawan ninyong natupok. Dinig ko’y bulalas ng paghahanap at panalangin. Nakakabingi ang katahimikan nilang nang-alipin.
Umaalingasaw pang sangsang ng usok ng kapabayaan. Nakasusulasok ang samyo sa hangin ng kasakiman. Nilalasap nilang naiwa’y pait ng pangungulila. Ramdam pa ri’y hapdi’t pighati ng pagdurusa.
Nasaksihan namin ang nais ninyo naming makita Narinig ang boses ninyong hindi nila ininda. Naamoy tuyong pawis ng pagsasamantala Natikma’y pagkakait ng lipunan sa inyo ng hustisya.
Magpapatuloy kami, Hahanapin ang katarungang inyong ninanais. Ipaparinig pang higit ang inyong pagtangis. Ipapaamoy kabulukan ng lipunang di nagmamalasakit. Ipapatikim sa mapagsamantala ang naipon nating galit.
Siya si Christine o Tin Tin sa kanyang mga kasamahan at kaibigan. Balingkinitan, simple, madalas t-shirt, maong at baseball cap ang pormahan. Hindi mo aakalaing ang 23 taong gulang na kababaihang manggagawang ito ay isa sa mga pinakamasigasig at maaasahang lider ng Pepmaco Workers Union (PWU-NAFLU-KMU). Tulad sa unyon, maaasahan ding anak si Tin Tin bilang bread winner ng kanyang pamilya. Panganay siya sa limang magkakapatid.
Araw-araw siyang gumigising nang maaga para maghanda sa pagpasok sa trabaho. Naghahanda para sa isa na namang mahabang araw. Labingdalawang oras kasi siyang magtatrabaho sa pabrika. Pagdating naman sa bahay, agad maglalaba ng uniporme, kakain at matutulog na. Wala na siyang oras para sa iba pang gawain dahil sa sobrang pagod at puyat. Buong linggo siyang nagtatrabaho. Wala rin kasing ibinibigay na “rest day” sa kanila ang management ng Pepmaco.
Ipinapadala ni Christine ang sahod niya sa kanyang pamilya sa probinsya para pantustos sa pag-aaral ng kanyang mga kapatid. Nagtitira lang siya ng kaunting pera para sa kanyang pagkain, pambayad sa bahay, tubig at kuryente. Madalas kulang ang kanyang sahod kung kaya’t napipilitan siyang isanla ang kanyang ATM at tinutubos na lang sa susunod na sahod. Kapag kinapos uli (na madalas din) ay isinasanla niya ito ulit.
BUHAY UNYONISTA, AKTIBISTA
IOHSAD (I): Sa karanasan mo sa welga, ano ang hinding-hindi mo malilimutan?
Christine : Hinding-hindi ko malilimutan ang nangyari noong Hunyo 28, 2019. Walang awa kaming pinagbobomba ng tubig, pinagbabato ng bote at bato at pinagpapalo ng kanilang mga batuta. Dalawa sa aming mga kasama ay putok ang ulo at putok ang bibig. Marami rin sa amin ang sugatan. Karamihan ay mula sa mga kababaihan. Nag-iiyakan na kami at halos magmakaawa na sa mga goons na huwag kaming saktan. Hindi namin inakalang kaya palang gawin ito sa amin ng kapitalista kahit na regular na hanapbuhay lang naman ang aming panawagan.
I : Sa iyong tingin,mayroon bang naging epekto sa kalusugan mo ang matagal na exposure mo sa kemikal sa loob ng pabrika?
Christine : Madalas akong matalsikan sa mata ng mga kemikal na aming ginagamit at direktang hinahawakan ng aming kamay. Hindi ako nawawalan ng ubo at sipon. Nasusunog din ang aming mga balat sa mga chemical na ginagamit sa paggawa ng surfactant. Sa kasalukuyan, ay nanlalabo pa rin ang aking mga mata na maaaring dahil sa mga kemikal na tumatalsik.
I: Bakit ka sumama sa welga?
Christine : Gusto naming mabago ang sistema ng Pepmaco. Ito ay hindi lang namin ginagawa para sa aming mga pamilya kundi para na rin sa lahat ng mga kapwa naming manggagawang kontraktuwal. Gusto rin naming hindi na danasin ng mga bagong manggagawang papasok sa Pepmaco ang aming masahol na pinagdaanan dito.
I : Ano ang motibasyon mo para ipagpatuloy ang inyong laban?
Christine: Ipinapagpatuloy namin ang aming welga para sa aming pamilya at para rin sa lahat ng mga manggagawang kontraktwal sa iba pang pagawaan. Marami na rin kaming nasakripisyo sa laban na ito kaya hindi kami papayag na matalo na lang at hindi ibigay ng management ang mga panawagan namin para sa regular na hanapbuhay, nakabubuhay na sahod at ligtas na pagawaan. Tanging kapitalista rin namin na si Simeon Tiu ang nag-udyok sa amin para magwelga.
Interbyu at teksto ni Fress Sagnip ng IOHSAD. Kontribusyon para sa Usapang OSH, IOHSAD Newsletter
IOHSAD Philippines and Pepmaco workers join the people of Bhopal in their fight for justice. We stand with the victims and survivors of the Bhopal tragedy in their fight for justice and corporate accountabilitiy.
The Bhopal chemical gas leak is considered as the world’s worst industrial disaster. Thousands of people were killed on that tragic night in Bhopal 35 years ago. A lot more people are suffering from fatal illnesses and lifelong disabilities until now.
Pepmaco workers identify with the struggle of the Bhopal people. They are also victims of their company’s gross violations of OSH standards, labor and human rights. They have been exposed to unsafe working conditions and are now suffering from various respiratory, vision, skin and other health problems.
Pepmaco workers take inspiration from the Bhopal people’s long and ongoing struggle for justice and corporate accountability. The workers are resolved to fight until they get the justice they truly deserve.
Justice for Bhopal! No More Bhopal! Safe Workplaces Now!
Visit the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal’s webiste to know more about the campaign. https://www.bhopal.net
The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), India Ban Asbestos Network (iBAN) and Occupational and Environmental Health Netowrk India (OEHNI) express its deep sadness and outrage at continuing denial of justice to the victims of gas tragedy which took place in Bhopal on 3 December 1984. For 35 years, the victims and their family members have been denied just compensation and rehabilitation.
ANROEV is a network of victims and grass root organisations who work on safe working conditions and environmental impacts due to factories and mines in Asia. ANROEV combines the OSH rights struggle in different Asian countries into a one united struggle and demands better health and safety for the workers across the region.
iBAN is a coalition of labour organizations, public health groups, environmental groups, academicians, scientific experts, concerned citizens, victims and their families. The aim of the network is community wellbeing and ensuring that communities, workers and residents remain safe from the exposure to Asbestos fibre and diseases caused by this dreaded fibre.
Occupational and Environmental Health Netowrk India (OEHNI) is National network of grassroots organizations working on OHS rights.
The gas tragedy which took place just after midnight on that fateful night at the factory owned by Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemicals) left more than 8000 people dead in the first week. The current death toll is estimated to be more than 20,000. Countless others are still battling chronic illnesses brought about by the gas tragedy, ranging from skin diseases, vision impairment, cancers. Genetic mutations have taken place, and many children with disabilities are being born.
The Indian Government let off the perpetrators of this heinous crimes. Till date, no government agency has tried to present the correct figures for the number of people who have died or have been injured due to the tragedy. Without this accurate figure, the amount of compensation which should be rightfully claimed from the company remains inadequate. Many victims and family members are still seeking for compensation, rehabilitation and justice after 35 years have passed. The Indian government refuses to acknowledge them as a victim.
None of the senior leadership of Dow Chemicals (previously Union Carbide) has been tried in court or otherwise held accountable for these murders even though internal memos show that they knew beforehand of the inadequate safety systems at the factory. The Indian government has failed to put enough pressure on the United States Justice Department to even deliver the summons to Dow Chemicals to force them to appear in the Indian court and be held accountable for their actions.
The factory site still contains a large amount of waste from the time of operation which continue to contaminate the ground water. No concrete plans have been made for disposing this waste, neither by the government nor the company.
It is clear that the system has failed to hold multinational corporations accountable for their crimes and violations of human rights, and that our governments are not interested in change and instead the people of Bhopal have been left to fight for clean-up of the toxic waste, adequate healthcare, clean water, fair compensation, and corporate accountability.
Bhopal remains the worst industrial disaster ever recorded. The commitment, strength and endurance of the Bhopalies provide inspiration to all of us to continue our struggles for safe workplaces and clean environments in Asia and throughout the world. All of us stands along with the people of Bhopal for as long as necessary to fight for justice.
We are calling all doctors, medical professionals and OSH advocates to join us on December 8. IOHSAD will conduct a medical check-up and evaluation among Pepmaco workers in Laguna.
Pepmaco workers have suffered from unsafe working conditions for years. They have been exposed to hazardous chemicals and poor working conditions that have affected their overall health. Most of the workers have experienced vision, respiratory and skin problems. The company has clearly violated the workers’ occupational safety and health rights.
Pepmaco workers need our help and support. Let us give them the medical care and attention that they deserve and urgently need. If you want to volunteer, please send us a message on Facebook (Iohsad Phils) or email us at email@example.com.
The Senate approved SB 1571 or the Alternative Working Arrangement Bill on third and final reading with a unanimous 17-0 vote last May 20 as it resumed session after the elections.
This bill allows employers to adjust the workers’ 48 hours work per week requirement.
IOHSAD strongly opposes Senate Bill 1571 because it institutionalizes flexible working arrangements such as the adoption of compressed workweek in workplaces that totally disregards the workers’ right to health and safety.
Occupational health and safety is a basic right of every worker. The government plays a crucial role in ensuring that this right is enjoyed by the workers at all times. Laws and regulations should focus on the protection of workers’ health and safety and not otherwise.
Compressed workweek means longer working hours a day that will lead to workers’ stress, injuries and illnesses.
Researches abroad show that working excessive hours or more than eight hours a day, increases the workers’ risk of acquiring chronic and life threatening diseases. Based on a research from the Ohio State University in 2016, performing work for 11 hours a day increases heart disease risk by 67 percent. Women workers triple their risks of diabetes, cancer and heart diseases when they continuously work for 12 hours a day.
Long working hours also result to workers’ fatigue and stress. Exhausted workers who work during night shifts are more prone to accidents and injuries. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that accident and injury rates are higher by 18% during evening shifts. There is also a 37% increased risk of injury when workers are on duty for 12 hours per day.
Recent reports on decent work in the Philippines released by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2015 say that 8.105 M Filipino workers are overworked. There are also 8.845 M employed persons who work excessive hours per week. This alarming data only shows that Filipino workers have long been suffering from long and exhausting working hours. Working for 12 hours straight has become normal in workplaces especially those located in special economic zones. Legislating flexible working schemes such as compressed workweek will institutionalize this slave-like working condition that puts workers’ health and lives in great danger.
In a workshop organized by IOHSAD on the effects of compressed workweek, a workers’ union of an electronics company reported that a number of workers suffer from heart problems and other chronic diseases. Moreover, two workers went through heart bypass operations and one worker had an angioplasty procedure. Two workers from the same company died this year from heart attack and lung cancer. The workers’ union firmly believes that these health cases and deaths are work-related and caused by their continuous exposure to stressful and unsafe working conditions.
Compressed workweek prolongs workers’ exposure to potential health hazards such as noise, extreme temperature and harmful chemicals.
Workers in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry have also reported cases of throat problems caused by excessive use of voice. Urinary track infection cases are also common among them because they are prohibited from taking breaks during calls.
Compressed workweek also puts workers handling chemicals to greater risks. The longer workers are exposed to chemicals in workplaces, the greater are the risks of developing serious health problems. Exposure limits are based on the standard eight-hour work day. Prolonged and continuous chemical exposure in the workplace would have a corresponding impact to workers’ health.
Compressed workweek affects relationships with family and can lead to emotional and psychological stress for the working parents and their children.
Workers contradict claims that a four-day workweek would give them more time to spend with their families. They assert that longer working hours would actually deprive them of spending quality time with their children. A 12-hour working day leaves them little time to interact and care for their families. Extended workdays also cause fatigue which makes it difficult for working parents to enjoy and relax with their children.
Compressed workweek robs workers of their right to safe and healthy workplaces.
We call on our legislators to focus on laws that will protect the occupational health and safety rights of Filipino workers. Workers demand for legislation that will ensure their health and safety and not policies that will worsen existing working conditions.
UP Manila Political Science students expressed their solidarity with the workers in their campaign for safer workplaces in the country during this year’s commemoration of Worker’s Memorial Day.
The students with IOHSAD’s guidance, conducted a research about hazardous chemicals in workplaces and its effects on workers’ health. They interviewed workers from different companies who are exposed to chemicals in their work. The workers’ narratives will be used to amplify the Safe Workplaces Now campaign that includes the call for the immediate ratification of ILO Convention 170 or the Chemical Convention.
The students expressed their unity with the workers through songs, poems and multimedia presentations.
Student leaders from different UP Manila organizations such as Gabriela Youth, National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA Youth) and Katribu joined the activity and pledged their commitment to support the campaign for safer workplaces.
A workplace safety NGO called on employers to uphold safety measures during earthquakes and denounced companies which reportedly refused to allow workers to carry out safety measures during the April 22 earthquake. The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) claimed that the “business as usual” approach taken by many companies during and after the earthquake is a violation of workers’ right to safe workplaces and placed workers’ lives in extreme danger.
“Workers are not earthquake-proof. Worse, they are the most vulnerable during earthquakes. Workers’ safety and their immediate evacuation during emergency situations such as earthquakes should be the management’s top priority. Workers should be kept safe at all times,” said Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD executive director.
IOHSAD has received a number of reports from workers especially in the service and manufacturing sectors that they were prevented from safely evacuating their respective workplaces during the earthquake.
A BPO worker from Pampanga, where the earthquake was intensely felt, recalled how he and his co-workers were told by their supervisors to continue taking calls even aftershocks have occurred. Another BPO company in the south of Metro Manila also ignored the earthquake and even demanded that their employees stay in their stations and not log out from their accounts.
Inhumane and irrational company evacuation policies during emergencies were also experienced by manufacturing workers. Workers of Nexperia, a multinational electronics company in one of the export processing zones in Laguna, complained that they were not allowed to leave the production area during the earthquake. During the dialogue between Nexperia management and the workers, HR officials reiterated the company’s policy that workers can leave their work areas only when earthquakes have reached Magnitude 6.
“Earthquakes with less than Magnitude 6 can kill employees working in unstable buildings. Only extreme greed can prevent employers from allowing workers to leave their workplaces even for a short period during earthquakes,” said De Leon.
The NGO condemned SM Supermalls, which drew criticisms for allegedly refusing to let its salesladies and workers evacuate during the earthquake. It said the “periodic disaster preparedness programs’ being claimed by the company in its recent statement will amount to nothing if it does not allow workers to carry these out during earthquakes.
IOHSAD challenged SM to immediately fix the mall chains’ emergency evacuation procedures. “What we want to see are salesladies and other workers evacuated immediately during earthquakes. SM should find a way to secure workers even as it tries to secure its wares,” De Leon said.
“The recent earthquake exposed how companies’ adherence to earthquake drills and preparations for the Big One are just for show. We condemn the inhumane policies of SM, BPO and manufacturing companies that prevented workers from leaving their workplaces during the earthquake. Companies who do this should be penalized and their “business as usual” policies during emergency situations should be repealed,” added De Leon.
“As we remember all workers who have died due to work this Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, we call on the government, through the Labor Department, to immediately address workers’ complaints on the failure of their companies to evacuate them in emergency situations,” De Leon said.
In light of the predictions of “the Big One” earthquake happening, IOHSAD called on the government to carry out the following:
An honest-to-goodness inspection of the structural soundness of all workplaces in the country, especially the biggest ones. Workers would be most happy to take part in efforts in line with this.
An immediate investigation into reports that workers were not allowed to evacuate workplaces during the last earthquake. Companies that committed safety violations and placed the workers’ lives in danger should be held accountable. Implement the newly enacted Occupational Safety and Health Law and give appropriate penalties to companies who have set aside workers’ safety.
An order by the Labor Department directing all companies to submit their emergency evacuation plans. Existing company evacuation policies during emergencies should be reviewed and immediately revised to reflect the company’s duty to keep workers safe at all times.
Fresh wave of earthquake drills and disaster preparedness trainings for workers.
“Footages of the recent earthquake show that it only took a few seconds for unstable structures to collapse. This should send a clear message to employers and the government to resolutely act now to ensure safer workplaces in the country,” ended De Leon. ##
photo credit : Facebook page of ALL Nexperia FIGHT