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Kentex victims’ kin offered only P136k settlement, lawyer says

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 09:13 PM June 14, 2015
INQUIRER FILE  PHOTO/REM ZAMORA

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/REM ZAMORA

Is P136,000 enough for the life of a loved one?

Families who lost their kin in the May 13 inferno at the Kentex slippers factory in Valenzuela city have been offered such an amount as settlement, according to the lawyer of some of the kin of the 72 workers who perished in the fire.

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Remigio Saladero, who represents 99 complainants in the cases filed against Kentex in the National Labor Relations Commission, said the Kentex management made the offer during conciliation proceedings last week, and only to those who lost loved ones in the fire.

Saladero said although he represented around half of the families who lost members in the blaze, only 19 of them made it to the proceedings.

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“The lawyer of the Kentex management told us that there was no order yet from the labor department holding them liable for violations, so they would only speak with those who lost family members, out of humanitarian reasons,” Saladero said.

Saladero said should the families accept the settlement, they would also be asked to sign “release waivers and quitclaims,” in which they would be waiving their right to file further claims against Kentex.

Saladero said he and the families made a counteroffer of at least P4 million per family, but that the Kentex counsel remained adamant that P136,000 was the ceiling of their offer. “They even said they might declare bankruptcy,” Saladero said.

Last May 22, the complainants started filing cases against Kentex for violation of labor standards such as non-payment of wages and other premiums, and violation of occupational safety. Aside from families of those who were killed in the fire, Saladero is also representing survivors and minimum wage claimants from the factory.

The conciliation proceeding was a mandatory step before actual hearings on the complaints, Saladero said. Saladero said the 19 families had rejected the settlement and opted to push through with the hearing last Thursday.

Meanwhile, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, which has helped organize the Kentex workers in filing legal complaints, slammed the Kentex management for saying, in media reports, that at least 30 families have agreed to settle.

“We seriously doubt the Kentex management’s claim about the number of families who have agreed to settle. We believe that it is publicizing a high number in order to try to create a bandwagon effect for settlement,” said Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson, in a statement.

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Labog described the P136,000 settlement offer as a “meager amount” and called for “just compensation for the victims and survivors.”

“We are calling on victims’ families and survivors to remain steadfast in their fight for justice,” he added.  sfm

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TAGS: Elmer Labog, factory fire, failure to remit premiums to Pag-IBIG, failure to remit premiums to SSS, financial compensation, Fire, fire casualties, fire fatalities, Kentex Manufacturing Inc., Kilusang Mayo Uno, labor standards, minimum wages, National Labor Relations Commission, News, non-payment of minimum wages, occupational safety standards, Pag-IBIG premiums, Remigio Saladero, settlement of claims, slippers factory, SSS premiums, Valenzuela City, violation of labor standards, violation of occupational safety standards
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