Manila (27 April) — “The workplaces have become increasingly dangerous place for workers. The five new deaths in Cebu construction and 10 others from mining accidents in Nueva Vizcaya this April alone, showed continued disregard for workers’ safety and health and with safety standards and laws. How many more workers have to die before we take action?” lamented Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) General Secretary Ernesto Herrera.
A TUCP compilation of newspaper reports show 51 deaths, 8 injuries in 22 workplace incidents in January ? April 2010. Eleven of those killed were involved in 4 construction accidents.
“All these workplace accidents, injuries and deaths highlight our incompetence, failures and sins in workplace accidents prevention. Why must we wait for another April 28 to get our acts together and get things done?” added former Senator Herrera.
The TUCP General Secretary was speaking in relation to the observance of this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work and International Commemoration Day for the Dead and Injured Workers.
TUCP is leading the activity in the Philippines which will highlight the tripartite sectors’ calls for government’s ratification of Convention No. 187 and other related instruments and the reiteration of occupational safety and health higher in the government’s core priorities. Similar activities will take place in different provinces in partnership with the OSH Center and DOLE Regional Offices and OSH networks.
Around 500 individuals from government, employers, unions, safety and health professionals, educators, and other social partners will join the April 28 International Commemoration Day for the Dead and Injured morning activity at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC).
This year’s celebration with themes “Emerging Risks and New Patterns of Prevention in a Changing World of Work” and “Unions Make Work and Communities Safer”” will engage government officials, OSH institutions and practitioners, other unions and social partners to endorse ratification of ILO Convention No. 187 (Promotional Framework for OSH) and strategies to improve current practices on safety prevention, support the campaigns on Ban Asbestos, as well as universal access to HIV & AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.
“We have to be proactive to protect workers, their families and their communities. It’s not enough that we file criminal cases against owners of erring companies. Or that we issue show cause or close orders. Workplace safety is no accident. If workplaces are inspected properly, compliance with safety and health standards and untoward accidents and deaths in workplaces could have been prevented,” stressed TUCP Party-List Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza. “There are many instruments to verify compliance with labor standards and ensure workers’ safety. The problem lies with how well these instruments are used,” Bro. Mendoza added.
TUCP, and its affiliate the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), and the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) are jointly working for more pointed safety and health promotion and action to include similar attention to health hazards extending outside workplaces. “Not only workers, but also their families and communities, are vulnerable and need to be protected from other emerging risks such as asbestos contamination, toxics leaching into the soil and released into the atmosphere, effects of climate change, ergonomic disorders, disasters and technologies which bring yet-unknown new dangers. This is something which cannot be addressed with a quick fix”, noted Bro. Gerard Seno, ALU National Vice President and ALU/BWI Ban Asbestos Campaign Coordinator.
The morning part starts with a fun walk from the TUCP/PGEA Compound to the OSHC. The evening part starts with a candle light memorial procession around Elliptical Road in commemoration of dead and injured workers, the dedication of asbestos trees, and the lighting of a giant torch. (TUCP/PIA-Surigao del Norte)