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Supreme Court holds Kentex exec liable for P1.44-M unpaid wages

/ 01:50 PM July 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the chief finance officer of Kentex Manufacturing Corp., owner of a slipper factory which burned down in May 2015, to share the company’s liability of P1.44 million to the factory’s underpaid workers.

The decision from the High Court’s First Division was promulgated on July 8, reinstated the order from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-National Capital Region (NRC) that held Kentex chief finance officer Ong King Guan liable to pay the amount awarded to 57 factory workers who died in the fire.

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The Court’ First Division decision set aside the March 27, 2017 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) which discharged Ong from sharing the liability with Kentex.

The High Court pointed out that the Appellate Court “committed serious error when it ordered the discharge or release of Ong from the obligations of Kentex” as the DOLE-NCR order was “already final and executory.”

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This was because Ong mistakenly filed a motion for reconsideration on the DOLE-NCR order instead of just elevating it to the DOLE Secretary as mandated under Department Order Number 131-13, series of 2013.

“Here, instead of filing an appeal with the DOLE Secretary, Ong moved for a reconsideration of the subject Order; needless to say, this did not halt or stop the running of the period to elevate the matter to the DOLE Secretary,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.

“Indeed, the DOLE-NCR took no action at all on Ong’s motion for reconsideration; in fact, it categorically informed Ong that his resort to the filing of a motion for reconsideration was procedurally infirm. The June 26, 2015 Order having become final, it could no longer be altered or modified by discharging or releasing Ong from his accountability,” it added.

The factory fire left 74 people dead, mostly workers of the factory. The fire also raised the issue of “sweatshop” labor conditions.

The DOLE-NCR order came from the findings that Kentex engaged in labor-only contracting scheme.

The amount issued represents underpayment of basic wages; underpayment of premium pay on rest day; non-payment of cost-of-living-allowance; non-payment of regular holiday pay; underpayment of overtime pay on regular day; underpayment of night shift; differential pay on regular day; non-payment of 13th month pay; unauthorized deduction of cash bond; and non-payment of service incentive leave pay. /muf

READ: 57 Kentex victims’ kin settle with firm

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READ: 2 years after tragedy, justice elusive for Kentex fire victims’ kin

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