|Photo by SunStar|
The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on employers to grant paid quarantine of P10,000 per month to workers to be affected by the impending closure of businesses in the province and city of Cebu, and the Mactan ecozone in Lapu-Lapu. “Local employers and foreign investors should shoulder temporary losses due to the covid pandemic,” asserted Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.
The province of Cebu is imposing a lockdown starting tomorrow while Cebu City is doing so on Saturday and Lapu-Lapu on Sunday. The shutdown of the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) alone will lead to the loss of jobs of some 100,000 workers.
“There are already a number of locators in MEZ that are closing ahead of Sunday and all are throwing workers out of work without paid quarantine except for Fairchild Semiconductor (Philippines) Inc. which gave wages for the next 20 days that employees will be out of work. Even a giant garments company that supplies to global brands is refusing to give quarantine subsidy to some 17,000 employees and instead is applying for the DOLE assistance for formal workers. This is a giant company that can very well afford to bear losses by granting quarantine subsidy.” Derige explained.
He added that “Employers, including tourism businesses, have benefited from recent economic growth without sharing the bounty with their workers. This was revealed in a Department of Finance study showing labor productivity grew by at least 50 percent, yet real wages were stagnant from 2001 to 2016. Moreover, foreign investors in the ecozones enjoyed tax breaks and other privileges for years. Now that there is a crisis, employers are morally obliged not to pass on the burden to their hapless workers.”
Derige insisted that “We cannot accept that workers are the last to benefit from economic progress but the first to sacrifice in time of crisis.”
The group is proposing the following mitigation measures to lessen the impact of covid on workers and the people:
1. Living pension for senior citizens since the elderly are more prone to infection;
2. Shift build-build-build budget to health in order to build more hospitals, provide testing and treatment facilities, hire more health workers;
3. Health tax on the wealthy—as part of CITIRA—to fund universal health care.
March 26, 2020