Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday ordered all DOLE regional directors to conduct a comprehensive inspection of all stores of Novo Fabulous Jeans and Shirts, whose branch in Butuan City was razed by fire on May 9 claiming the lives of 17 female workers.
Baldoz issued the directive after she received from Caraga Regional Director Ofelia Domingo a full report on the special random inspection conducted by the city government of Butuan and the DOLE of identified establishments after the deadly fire, a DOLE press release said.
At the Visayas-wide Consultation on the New Labor Law Compliance System and the Visayas-Mindanao Regional Cluster Meeting and Commitment-Setting through the OPCR held the other day in Lapu-Lapu City, Baldoz, who met with all the DOLE's labor inspectors from the Visayas and Mindanao, including those of the Caraga Region, said:
"As part of our duty to prevent a case similar to the Novo fire incident, I direct you to immediately conduct a comprehensive inspection of all the stores of the subject establishment, with focus on workers' occupational safety and health."
Baldoz said the comprehensive inspection should, firstly, establish whether or not all Novo stores also double-up as live-in quarters of its workers, as in the case of its Butuan branch, as well as of other similar establishments randomly inspected by the joint city government and DOLE team and, secondly, it should look into the compliance of the establishments with general labor standards and occupational health and safety standards.
"You conduct the inspection jointly with the local government units and other appropriate government agencies," Baldoz instructed, "because this concretizes our convergent thrusts and strategies."
The consultation meeting was held to ensure workers' protection through the efficient and effective enforcement of all labor laws, including Department Order No. 18-A, the guidelines thataddresses the issue of contractualization, the press release said.
Baldoz said the DOLE is fast-tracking the process of hiring the 372 new labor inspectors that President Aquino authorized the Department to do to increase its roster of labor inspectors to 596. The inspectors are being re-named labor law compliance officers, it added.*