Dole to give 2,900 displaced workers emergency employment
The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) dangled one-month emergency employment with government-paid salary to at least 2,900 workers displaced by the deadly fire at a Davao City mall but a workers’ group demanded more than that — justice for 37 call center agents and one mall employee who died in the fire.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who was in Davao on Thursday, said the Dole would enroll all workers of the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) mall in an emergency employment program that would be funded by the department.
But moderate workers’ group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the Dole should first help shed light on the fire that killed 38 employees of the Connecticut-based business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Survey Sampling International (SSI).
ALU-TUCP said the Dole Davao office should make public the labor inspection report on SSI prior to the fire, which investigators in Davao said destroyed at least P1.6 billion in property.
The job of labor inspectors, he said, was not limited to checking compliance with wage and benefit compliance but also checking whether workplaces have adequate fire protection equipment — fire extinguishers, fire hoses and fire detection devices.
Making the report public, said Tanjusay, would “avoid coverup or whitewash.”
ALU-TUCP said malls were the wrong places for call center companies, which resort to renting out spaces in other commercial establishments only to save on costs and improve profit margins.
Call centers, said the labor group, should be housed in buildings designed specifically for 24-hour BPO operations.
Bello disagreed, however, with ALU-TUCP on call center locations.
He said having call centers in malls was the same as having supermarkets in residential condominiums or cinemas in malls.
Mayor Sara Duterte said the city government was funding funeral for the 38 employees and providing cash assistance to their families.
She said China and SSI also promised to help in cash assistance for relatives of the fatalities. —WITH A REPORT FROM FRINSTON LIM
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