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The Associated Labor Unions-TUCP in partnership with the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) commemorated the April 28th International Workers Memorial Day by a candle lighting and offering of prayer ceremony at the steps of the Manila Film Center where scores of workers died and injured after a tragic incident in November 1981 while they were rushing to finish the building two months later.
Around 40 members, partners, and affiliates of ALU-TUCP attended the ceremony which began at 8a.m. on Saturday, April 28.
At around 3 o¹clock in the morning on November 17, 1981, while the plenary hall was being paved with quick drying cement, more than a hundred workers who were working on the ceiling fell into it after the concrete roof atop them gave way.
However, the tragedy did not end there. Reports say that after the incident took place, other workers tried to rescue those they can save but those workers who sunk deeper into the cement were not retrieved but rather were paved with the cement to meet government deadline.
They were part of the 4,000 construction workers commissioned to work in 3 shifts every day in a hurry to build the building in time for the opening of the 1st Manila International Film Festival scheduled on January 18-29, 1982 or less than two months later.
The martial law regime immediately imposed news and information blackout about the incident. The responding first-aiders were only allowed nine hours after the incident. Because of the impunity of the regime, no one knows how many died or injured. Nobody is sure about the exact identities of the workers and no one is definite whether they were justly compensated or were they compensated at all.
The impunity was such that despite of what happened, the festival pushed through as if nothing happened. But the victims were slowly forgotten, their story was ignored and most of all, their relatives quest for justice fell on deaf ears,² said Gerard Seno, ALU National Vice President, during the short ceremony.
The presence of ALU-TUCP and the Building and Woodworkers International staffs and representatives here today symbolizes unions continuing commitment to fight for improved standards of health and
safety, better laws and policies, and just compensation in the Philippines, he said.
We always believe that no workers should be put at unnecessary risk during work. And because this is non-negotiable, we will continue to work for work-related illnesses, injury, and death to become
unacceptable part of the world of work in the Philippines and
elsewhere, Seno added.
The ceremony was covered by GMA News and was aired during noon and evening newscasts.
Link to GMA News http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4or3-l9Di_0