On 40th Day Since Eton Tragedy: DOLE Urged to Address Multiple Subcontracting, ‘Slave Wages’ in Eton

7 March 2011

A labor NGO urged today the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to take necessary measures in addressing the “multiple subcontracting chains” which continue to exist in Eton Residences, forty days after the tragedy in the construction site of the condominium wherein 10 workers were killed.

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said “multiple subcontracting being employed by Eton has distorted the employee-employer relationship, making accountability on the tragedy hard to trace.”

“What we have seen in Eton are layers of subcontracting which created an impunity cloak for contractors and the developer and which made workers more vulnerable to injustice. And yet DOLE has not acted to squarely address the practice despite the tragedy,” said EILER Executive Director Anna Leah Escresa.

“It is simply unjust to tolerate highly abusive scheme. DOLE should scrap multiple subcontracting schemes,” Escresa added.

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Last Jan. 27, one of Eton Residences’ gondolas fell from the 28th floor, killing 10 workers while seriously injuring another one. No one has been held accountable for the tragedy up to now.

EILER said the Eton tragedy highlights the need to review and repeal existing DOLE orders/advisories that tolerate this wily practice of companies to skirt accountability and cheapen labor cost.

The group added that construction workers in Eton Residences continue to receive “slave wages” as they continue to earn only P260 a day on an average. This is way below the current P404 minimum wage in the National Capital Region. “They are being paid low, without SSS, without any benefits, and much more they are exposed to very hazardous workplace with companies violating safety guidelines. It is clear that the companies and subcontracting firms are the ones benefitting from this multiple subcontracting chain practice in the construction industry,” Escresa said.

“Tolerating the P260 pay of Eton workers is like letting them die out of hunger. We wonder why it is taking so long for the government to correct this situation,” she added.

She said Eton and its subcontractors can be criminally charged for the non-payment of minimum wage according to existing laws.

EILER reiterated its call for justice and accountability over the tragedy as it joined today other groups in commemorating the 40th day since the death of 10 Eton workers.


Anna Leah Escresa
Executive Director
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research

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