In her recently published think piece in Rappler, sociologist Biel Pante (BA Sociology, UP Diliman 2014) draws on her ethnographic research with workers in export processing zones to make sense of the Kentex tragedy. Pante argues that while the Kentex has been described as a “death trap,” it is worth underscoring that the factory is a reflection of the broader economic system in which local manufacturing industries are embedded.
As she puts it “Systemic problems such as economic inequality, lack of employment opportunities, and insufficient wages leave more and more Filipinos with no choice but to endure harsh working conditions in factories. Hence, the Kentex fire is not an isolated case. It merely magnified the situation of workers trapped within factories with poor working conditions and within an economic system depriving them of sufficient income to live comfortably or to even survive at all.”
Pante concludes the article with a thoughtful word of caution, “If the accumulation of massive profits is valued more than the well-being of workers, we shouldn’t be surprised if tragedies which manifest the economic ‘death trap’ will continue to happen.”
Read the full article here.
Photo by Anton Dominic Salvador taken during SONA ng Bayan mobilization, 2013