MANILA — Women workers from the Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK) demand justice for the victims of fire that razed a warehouse of the Housing Technology Industries (HTI) located inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone Authority (CEPZA) in General Trias, Cavite province.
Fire broke out late afternoon of Feb. 1, Wednesday, injuring at least 100 workers who were able to escape from the burning warehouse. At least four workers were reported missing. HTI exports housing materials to Japan.
Women workers’s group Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK) led the noise barrage at Welcome Rotunda today, Feb. 2 carrying placards calling for immediate and fair investigation of the CEPZA fire.
KMK spokesperson Avic Villanueva condemned the lack of occupational and safety standards for free trade zones such as CEPZA. She said the lack of these standards greatly affects lives and health of women workers who comprise up to 80 percent of CEPZA’s labor force.
“We cry justice for our sister and brother workers who suffered serious injuries in the fire at the House Technology Industries. We call on government to give immediate aid to the victims and the victims’ families and ensure that the employers and the CEPZA completely and adequately compensate their losses,” Villanueva said.
Meanwhile, Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said they appeal to Congress to file a resolution investigating the roots of the tragic industrial incident and root out the anti-worker policies that led to the HTI fire.
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas joined a fact-finding mission to the area, which will help form a resolution for a congressional investigation on the occupational safety policies in export processing zones and their effects on mostly women workers.
Salvador demanded transparency on the incident, as there were reports “that certain interests are trying to suppress information, like reports of workers killed by fire and suffocation.”