Tuesday, March 10, 2020

DOLE asked to issue order on covid embodying worker-first policy

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Photo from Philstar.com

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue a department order on covid embodying a “worker-first” policy. “In the face of an increasing number of mass layoffs by companies due allegedly to covid, a DOLE order is an urgent necessity. But order must put the interests of workers first. Manggagawa naman,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “We do not accept management prerogative in implementing dismissals or flexible arrangements like forced leaves or work rotation. First of all, the DOLE must issue a determination that there is a real impact on the company. After which, any flexible work arrangement must be negotiated with duly-elected workers’ representatives or the union in case the company is organized.”

The group stated thousands of workers are affected by actual and threatened mass layoffs, starting with the high profile dismissal of 300 employees at Philippine Airlines allegedly due to the impact of the covid epidemic. PM’s chapter in Cebu has reported that workers are being laid off or put on forced leaves in the Mactan Cebu ecozone. Likewise, hotels and restaurants in Region 7 are reeling from reduction in tourism.

Magtubo insisted that the DOLE’s existing advisory on flexible work arrangement must be replaced with a department order. “An order has the force of regulation that companies are mandated to follow while an advisory has no teeth and practically useless. Violation of the order should be subject to penalty.” he explained.

The group also proposed the following concrete measures:

1.      Paid leave for workers to be shouldered by employers and the government;
2.      Pay for workers put on forced quarantine to be shouldered by employers and the government;
3.      Implement work from home arrangements, in applicable jobs, without diminution of wages and benefits;
4.      Provision of personal protective equipment for all health and allied workers in the frontline of covid response;
5.      Living pension for senior citizens since the elderly are more prone to infection;
6.      Shift build-build-build budget to health in order to build more hospitals, provide testing and treatment facilities, hire more health workers;
7.      Health tax on the wealthy—as part of CITIRA—to fund universal health care.”

March 10, 2020

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