Kentex lawyer: We followed labor standards
Kentex complied with labor standards and has the certificate to show for it, the lawyer of the slipper company hit by a fire that claimed 72 lives on Wednesday said, in response to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s statement describing the company’s owners as “illegal” and “immoral” for violating the Labor Code.
The labor official said Kentex used a “fly-by-night” subcontractor to hire workers, some of whom perished in the seven-hour fire.
Lawyer Renato Paraiso said it was “unfair” to tag the company as illegal and immoral, without knowing all the details that led to the blaze that also claimed the life of the owner’s son, Tyron Ong. Owner Ong King Guan suffered third-degree burns and was still recuperating in the hospital, he added.
“We have certificates showing that we are paying the right salaries and remitting (contributions) to the Social Security System and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.,” the Kentex lawyer told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Friday.
But Paraiso admitted that he did not know exactly how much contractual workers under CJC Manpower Services were receiving, as only the subcontractor would know this. But the workers also received allowances from Kentex on top of their salaries, he added.
The lawyer said he could not tell how many contractual and regular employees were working in the 15-year-old slipper factory in Valenzuela City, as “the documents were among those burned in the fire.” The payroll officer and human resource head—who would have such information—also perished in the fire, he said.
“We would like to ask for your patience as we are gathering the exact figures and copies [of the documents],” Paraiso said.
Information from the labor department indicated that 104 workers were employed by Kentex Manufacturing Inc. under subcontractor CJC Manpower Services. Of this number, 36 were found to be missing in the fire based on the list from the local social welfare office.
Paraiso said the company employed the services of a third-party contractor, whom they “assumed were capable [and] ensured that all the necessary safety [precautions and requirements were put in place].”
The seven-hour blaze reportedly started from a welding job carried out near combustible chemicals used in making the slippers.
Paraiso said the factory has safety and fire permits that were acquired legitimately.
“We can categorically say that we never bribed anyone. (The owners) are businessmen (who) depend on the recommendations of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP),” he said, adding that fire drills were (undertaken) by the BFP before it issues the certification of fire safety.
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