FILINVEST Land Inc. (FLI) and its 12 contractors were ordered to stop all exterior works at the IL Corso Festival Mall project in the South Road Properties (SRP) due to alleged violations of labor laws.

In a work-stoppage order issued last Monday, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7 cited at least 17 violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) and General Labor Standards (GLS) that were allegedly committed at the project site.

“The primary reason we issued a work stoppage order is the presence of imminent danger… Stakeholders involved, including Filinvest, the owner of the project, are ordered to cease and desist from all their exterior operations until such time that imminent danger is rectified,” Dole 7 Director Exequiel R. Sarcauga said in his order.

The exterior works included cladding, painting and roofing, among others.

Sarcauga said that instead of installing a scaffolding that meets safety standards, the project site only uses monkey ladder and canopy structure, which serves as a scaffold and platform for its workers. The workers also did not have personal protective equipment, such as full body harnesses, hard hats, uniforms and safety shoes.

The work stoppage order was issued on the same day that FLI and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced that they are rescinding the contract for the sale of another lot at the SRP, reportedly due to the City’s failure to comply with some of its obligations to FLI.

In a phone interview yesterday, Allan Alfon, FLI’s vice president for strategic business development, said their contractors are already acting on Dole’s observations.

“It’s an issue on the part of our contractors. They are now in the process of complying with the requirements to correct the alleged deficiencies,” he told SunStar Cebu.

Alfon clarified that the parties involved are FLI’s suppliers for Il Corso Mall, and not organic personnel of the company. Il Corso Mall is FLI’s waterfront lifestyle strip on its 10-hectare lot in SRP.

The stoppage order stemmed from the complaint filed by one of the construction workers, prompting a Dole 7 labor laws compliance officer to inspect the project.

In a news release, Dole 7 said the deficiencies noted include underpayment of wages, nonpayment of overtime pay, holiday pay, service incentive leave and 13th month pay.

They also do not have employment records and proof of Social Security System, Philhealth and Pag-Ibig coverage.

As for the project’s violations of the OSHS, the project reportedly does not have a Dole-approved Construction Safety and Health Program, no safety officer with Construction Safety Training certificate, no Dole-accredited safety practitioner, no first aider, no Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board license; no structural analysis for gondola or monkey ladder, and no Tesda Certificate or NCII for heavy equipment operators and skilled workers.

Representatives of Mercado Builders Inc., the project manager of IL Corso, and RBM Construction, its independent contractor, visited the Dole 7 office last Tuesday and assured Dole 7 officials that they will address the deficiencies observed.

The work stoppage order will be lifted when all deficiencies are corrected.

“There are more deficiencies noted under the OSHS apart from the ones highlighted. However, we are glad that the management representative of Mercado Builders was very positive during the conference and assured us that they’re going to address deficiencies observed as soon as possible,” said Dole 7 Assistant Regional Director Joel Gonzales, who presided the mandatory conference.

The affected workers will be entitled to receive their salary and other monetary benefits for the duration of the work stoppage order if the violation is attributable to the fault of the employer, according to Section VI of the Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System.

This is not the first time that the mall project was cited for many violations.

In November last year, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña suspended the release of all pending permits for Il Corso because of its alleged violation of the National Building Code.

City Government engineers observed that the mall’s concrete canopy and its columns on the property line of FLI violated the mandatory setback for lands abutting a road right-of-way.