Labor groups light candles to call for better working conditions ahead of May 1

Mara Cepeda
ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay urges Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to work harder to ensure safer and healthier workplaces for Filipino laborers

REMEMBERING. Union workers light candles to remember their colleagues who died or got injured due to work accidents. Photo from Alan Tanjusay's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Two labor groups held a prayer and candle-lighting ceremony on Saturday, April 28, to call for better working conditions for Filipino workers ahead of Labor Day.

The event of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) and its global union federation partner Building and Woodworkers International also sought to remember all Filipino employees who perished or got injured while at work. 

ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said they are urging the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to improve its enforcement of occupational safety and health standards after a series of workplace fires and mishaps in the past months.

“Gravely concerned that these series of workplace mishaps are due to non-compliance to occupational safety and health standards, we urged Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to [improve] enforcement of occupational safety and health standards so that workers’ workplace deaths and injuries incidents are avoided,” said Tanjusay.  

He cited several work-related accidents in the past months, including the Kentex factory fire in May 2015 that killed 74 workers and the HTI factory fire in January 2017 that led to the deaths of 5 workers.  

Tanjusay also mentioned the fire that hit the NCCC Mall in Davao City in December 2017 that trapped and killed 38 call center agents, the collapse of a bunkhouse in Cebu City in March 2018 that killed 5 construction workers, the March 2018 Manila Pavilion Hotel fire that killed 5 workers, and the collapse of a tower crane in a Pasay City construction site that killed two.  

“We are hoping for immediate, positive and stronger action from the DOLE that would result [in] safer and healthier workplaces for all Filipino workers across all sectors from here on,” said Tanjusay. 

“The trending workplace deaths and injuries due to non-compliance with and poor enforcement of safety and health standards must be stopped,” he added. 

The Philippines is set to celebrate Labor Day on Tuesday, May 1. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.