Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sorry not enough, repeal no vaccination, no ride policy—labor group

 

Photo from the internet

In response to the declaration of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello that the government should apologize for the confusion over the no vaccination, no ride policy, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) asserted that the controversial order be withdrawn immediately.

 

“Sorry is not good enough. Apologies will not bring back the lost pay of daily paid workers who have been barred from public transport by enforcers since last week. It is not over eagerness on the part of enforcers but impunity of security forces who have been given a free pass since the onset of the pandemic to implement discriminatory policies and double standards in enforcement. Kapag VIP's malaya, kapag mahirap kawawa ngayong pandemya,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

 

He called on Secretary Bello to immediately convene a meeting with labor groups to hear their concerns about policies such as no vaccination, no ride and no jab, no job. “A planned dialogue between Department of Labor and Employment officials and Nagkaisa labor coalition leaders last week did not push through again. Instead of social dialogue, the government is exercising social distancing with labor groups,” Magtubo asserted.

 

PM also welcomed the statements of Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros against the no vaccination, no ride policy. Magtubo said that “We call on Senators Kiko and Risa to open an investigation on the no vaccination, no ride, no jab, no job and similar discriminatory policies.”

 

“These policies are patent discrimination against workers and poor. In contrast, rich people—vaccinated or not—are free to move around since they have cars to use. These unfair and biased policies disproportionately impact people in the laylayan,” Magtubo insisted.

 

He stated that the Department of Transportations’s discriminatory ban on unvaccinated individuals taking public transport is a repeat of the railroading of the jeepney phaseout amid the pandemic lockdown in 2020. “The impromptu jeepney phaseout eliminated the livelihood of several hundred thousand jeepney drivers and operators at a time they needed it most,” Magtubo explained.

January 19, 2022

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Workers group oppose no vaccination, no ride policy

 

Photo by Grig Montegrande/Inquirer.net

The workers group Partido Manggagawa expressed its opposition to the “no vaccination, no ride” policy on public transport vehicles. “This is patent discrimination on workers and poor who rely on public transport for mobility and commuting to work,” stated Rene Magtubo, chair of the Partido Manggagawa (PM).

 

The ban on unvaccinated individuals using public transport is to be implemented by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Monday. “In contrast, rich people—vaccinated or not—are free to move around since they have cars to use. These unfair and biased policies disproportionately impact people in the laylayan,” Magtubo insisted.

 

The group is calling on the DoTr and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to dialogue with labor groups and commuter organization so that concerns of workers and the poor will be heard and heeded. A meeting between the labor coalition Nagkaisa and the DOLE is scheduled this week on workers demands for free testing and other issues related to “balik trabahong ligtas.” The meeting has not yet transpired.

 

Magtubo pointed out that the DoTr policy is tantamount to putting unvaccinated workers on forced leave since they cannot commute to work. It also unfairly puts jeepney drivers and operators responsible for unvaccinated commuters riding the vehicles. “Has the DoTr realized the implications of their no vaxx, no ride policy? If not, it is because they do not seek to dialogue with workers and commuters’ organizations and prefer to unilaterally impose discriminatory policies,” Magtubo insisted.

 

He stated that the DoTr’s discriminatory ban on unvaccinated individuals taking public transport is a repeat of the railroading of the jeepney phaseout amid the pandemic lockdown in 2020. “The impromptu jeepney phaseout eliminated the livelihood of several hundred thousand jeepney drivers and operators at a time they needed it most. Now, it will temporarily make unvaccinated workers jobless since they cannot commute to work,” Magtubo explained.

January 13, 2022

Monday, January 10, 2022

Provide free covid tests for workers—labor group

 

Photo from DTI

With the daily COVID-19 infections at a record high and the active cases topping 100,000, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) renewed the call for free testing of workers who are mandated to work onsite. A dialogue between the labor coalition Nagkaisa and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is scheduled this week to discuss workers’ demands. Ahead of the dialogue, PM called on employers and the DOLE to ensure that safety committees are operating in workplaces, health protocols are being followed and occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are being enforced.

 

“A lot of factories and workplaces are operating and numerous workers are reporting onsite under the Alert Level 3 protocol. Thus, the necessity of ensuring workplace safety. Workers should assert that OSH regulations are implemented. Hanapbuhay ito hindi hanap patay,” Rene Magtubo, PM chair explained.

 

He repeated the call of Nagkaisa chair and senatorial candidate Sonny Matula for the government to subsidize the testing of workers who have symptoms or are unvaccinated but reporting for work.

 

“Workers are trapped in a catch-22 situation that is not of their own making. Antigen tests are cheaper than RT-PCR but still too expensive for minimum wage earners who are among the working poor. There are at least a million minimum wage workers in the NCR and half a million in Calabarzon, both areas facing the brunt of the new COVID-19 wave. Once workers are positive from antigen tests, they are immediately barred from working but cannot get sickness benefits from the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) which only accepts RT-PCR test results. The way out of this trap is for the government to provide free RT-PCR tests for workers,” Magtubo explained.

 

PM and Nagkaisa have been calling for “balik trabahong ligtas” since the lockdowns were relaxed in late 2020 and the economy re-opened. Senator Risa Hontiveros championed this call by filing an eponymous bill that guarantees provision of PPE’s for workers and enforcement of OSH standards. The demand for free testing however has not been heeded as the recent national budget conspicuously does not explicitly provide funds for it. Still the free tests and paid quarantine leaves can be provided as benefits from ECC, Philhealth, the Social Security System as an alternative.

 

Magtubo asked workers to collectively negotiate with employers for the provision of PPE’s, enforcement of OSH rules and the formation of safety committees. “All of these are guaranteed in the OSH Law. Workers just need to claim our rights. Ang karapatan ay ipinaglalaban. Batas ini!,” he added.

January 10, 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022

Group calls for OSH safeguards and free testing of workers

 

In the face of the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) reiterated the call for free testing of workers who are mandated to work onsite. The group also called on employees, employers and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure that safety committees are operating in workplaces, health protocols are being followed and occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are being enforced.

 

“A lot of factories and workplaces are operating and numerous workers are reporting onsite under the Alert Level 3 protocol. Thus, the necessity of ensuring workplace safety. Workers should assert that OSH regulations are implemented. Hanapbuhay ito hindi hanap patay,” Rene Magtubo, PM chair explained.

 

He repeated the call of Nagkaisa chair and senatorial candidate Sonny Matula for the government to subsidize the testing of workers who have symptoms or are unvaccinated but reporting for work.

 

“Workers are trapped in a catch-22 situation that is not of their own making. Antigen tests are cheaper than RT-PCR but still too expensive for minimum wage earners who are among the working poor. There are at least a million minimum wage workers in the NCR and half a million in Calabarzon, both areas facing the brunt of the new COVID-19 wave. Once workers are positive from antigen tests, they are immediately barred from working but cannot get sickness benefits from the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC). The way out of this trap is for the government to provide free RT-PCR tests for workers,” Magtubo explained.

 

PM and Nagkaisa have been calling for “balik trabahong ligtas” since the lockdowns were relaxed in late 2020 and the economy re-opened. Senator Risa Hontiveros championed this call by filing an eponymous bill that guarantees provision of PPE’s for workers and enforcement of OSH standards. The demand for free testing however has not been heeded as the recent national budget conspicuously does not explicitly provide funds for it. Still the free tests and paid quarantine leaves can be provided as benefits from ECC, Philhealth, the Social Security System as an alternative.

 

Magtubo asked workers to collectively negotiate with employers for the provision of PPE’s, enforcement of OSH rules and the formation of safety committees. “All of these are guaranteed in the OSH Law. Workers just need to claim our rights. Ang karapatan ay ipinaglalaban. Batas ini!,” he added. 

January 7, 2022

Monday, December 27, 2021

Group appeals for aid for Mactan ecozone workers in Cebu


The massive damage resulting from Typhoon Odette included the infrastructure of factories in Metro Cebu, the Mactan Economic Zone in Lapu-Lapu City and the southern part of the province. As a result, thousands of ecozone workers are temporarily out of work due to the damaged factories. “Thus, we are appealing for aid for the affected workers from the government as well as the companies too,” stated Dennis Derige, spokesperson of the Cebu chapter of the Partido Manggagawa (PM).

 

PM welcomed the announcement from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that it is extending assistance for some 25,000 informal workers worth P100 million through the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD). But Derige asserted that affected workers in the formal sector desperately need support too.

 

Citing informants from the Mactan Export Processing Zone Workers Association (MEPZWA), Derige reported that the factory of the biggest employer in the Mactan Ecozone has been damaged and as a result its more than 14,000 workers are without work until January 17. In contrast, just before Odette hit the Philippines, those workers were supposed to work through the Christmas holidays due to a large shipment of apparel. Another garment factory in the Mactan Ecozone employing more than 3,000 workers was also severely damaged and their workers too are on forced leave. Just these two companies already comprise almost a fifth of the total 100,000 workers in the Mactan Ecozone.

 

“Even outside of the Mactan Ecozone, other manufacturing and service establishments are not operating either due to actual damage from the typhoon or the lack of electricity. For example, one food processing company is closed in the meantime for lack of electricity and so its 130 employees are temporarily jobless without an assurance when they will be back at work,” Derige declared.

 

“It is the government that is in the position to provide immediate relief both to workers in the formal and informal sector. Everybody has suffered and no one must be left behind in the relief and rehabilitation effort. We hope that the DOLE hears the plea of MEPZWA and other Cebu workers,” Derige insisted.

 

He added that “Nonetheless we also ask companies to provide support to their own employees as they are more than capable. Just before Odette, Mactan Ecozone locators were already operating normally. And for a decade and half before the blip of the pandemic, business was booming for firms inside and outside the Mactan Ecozone. But while productivity rose by 50% and revenues doubled in 15 years, real wages have stagnated. At this dark hour of disaster, we call on employers to share the fruits of labor with their workers.”

 

Derige cited that one unionized mining company in Cebu already gave a P5,000 ayuda to all of its employees and extended a P20,000 calamity loan payable in one year without interest. This should be a model for others, he asserted.

December 27, 2021