Valenzuela cracks down on factories
More than a week after 72 workers were killed in a blaze at Kentex Manufacturing Inc. in Barangay (village) Ugong, Valenzuela City, two others factories located nearby were shut down by local officials for violating fire and labor regulations.
First Millennium Enterprises, which supplied slippers and laundry bags to hotels, was the first to be ordered closed after it was found to be a fire trap.
On the other hand, Snow Point Vinyl Products, which makes plastic pipes, was told to cease operating after it failed to present some supporting documents, including a fire safety certificate.
Both factories are located on Tatalon Street in Barangay Ugong, just minutes away from the Kentex Manufacturing Inc. compound.
They were the first to be inspected by audit teams formed by the local government after the May 13 blaze killed 72 Kentex workers who were trapped in the factory’s second floor.
Along with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the city’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the teams will check the 1,675 factories in Valenzuela City for compliance with safety regulations, labor laws, the fire code and business requirements.
City building official architect Edison Padilla told the Inquirer Thursday that First Millennium was ordered closed since its warehouse also doubled as an apartment for its stay-in employees.
He added that during the inspection, the factory which has 30 employees had 100 individuals inside the warehouse, including at least 10 children.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian told the Inquirer that the conditions inside the area were “inhumane.” “Some were living under a table with a piece of cloth to cover them,” he said.
Padilla noted that some employees lived at the back of the warehouse with a piece of plywood serving as a divider and a mosquito net as their protection from the elements.
He added that because of this setup, the factory was considered a “fire trap” by the BFP. Raw materials were also stockpiled beside the entrance.
Gatchalian said the factory owner, Catherine Dee, would have to provide “some kind of compensation” to the workers due to the establishment’s
Gatchalian added that they would provide food subsidies to the displaced employees. The local social welfare office is also looking into extending whatever assistance it can provide to them.
According to Padilla, Snow Point Vinyl Products was also ordered to stop operating until it has submitted all the required business documents.
The four audit teams will officially start checking the factories in the city on Monday. They are expected to finish their task within 21 days at the earliest. With Eumarie Penafuerte, trainee
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