MANILA, Philippines – Environmental health advocates from the Philippines and Taiwan on Friday, September 6, urged the Taiwanese government to investigate the death of a Filipino worker in an electronics factory in Taiwan.
In a joint statement on Friday, the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation (EQPF) of Taiwan and the EcoWaste Coalition of the Philippines joined other groups in seeking improved measures against occupational hazards following the death of 29-year-old Deserie Castro Tagubasi at the Tyntek electronics factory on August 28.
Tagubasi sustained acid burns when she dropped a container of hydrofluoric acid at the factory on August 28. She died at the hospital later that day – a death labor rights advocates believe could have been prevented under better working conditions.
Dr Ying-Shih Hsieh, EQPF Chairman and President of the Taiwan Society of International Law (TSIL), said, "The Ministry of Labor should initiate a complete investigation report on this case, including Tyntek Corporations' work distribution, hazard notification, protective measures, emergency procedures, etc, especially whether there is unreasonable differential treatment for foreign female workers."
“We also demand that the government of Taiwan should adopt the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families as soon as possible,” he added.
The convention recognizes the vulnerabilities of migrant workers and sets provisions on the rights that they are entitled to.
Thony Dizon, a chemical safety campaigner at EcoWaste Coalition, said Tagubasi's death should prompt Tyntek and other electronics companies to craft measures to improve workers' occupational health and safety in their industry.
Dizon said Tyntek executives "should be held accountable for the serious lapse in safety procedures, and that Tagubasi’s family should be justly compensated."
“It’s high time for the electronics industry to stop putting the health of their workers at risk due to exposure to highly toxic substances used in the manufacture of e-devices. Hazardous chemicals must be replaced with safer alternatives that will not poison workers nor pollute the environment," Dizon said.
Hydrofluoric acid is a highly corrosive agent used in electronics manufacturing that can be fatal even when only small, highly-concentrated splashes of it get in contact with the skin.
EQPF and the EcoWaste are part of the International POPs (persistent organic pollutants) Elimination Network, a global civil society network that advocates for a toxics-free future. – with reports from Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com