Friday, March 20, 2020

Employers asked for paid leave as ecozones close in Cavite

Litrato ni Cavite Economic Zone.
Photo from Cavite Economic Zone Administration

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on employers to grant paid leave to workers affected by the closure of ecozones in the province of Cavite. “Foreign investors should shoulder temporary losses due to the covid pandemic,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

The biggest export complex in the country, the Cavite Economic Zone in the town of Rosario, shuttered last night while the First Cavite Industrial Estate in Dasmarinas will close at 5:00 pm today. “We estimate that some 100,000 workers from the two ecozones are affected by the lockdown,” Magtubo said.

He added that “Employers 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.”

PM also stated that other factories have shutdown earlier, such as Yazaki-EMI in Imus and Eurotiles in Silang, both of which stopped operating since March 18 and are implementing a no work, no pay policy. The group averred that other workers—in factories like metal firm Taifini in Silang which are still producing—are suffering from walking long distances due to lack of transporation.

Magtubo 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.      Release of a DOLE order—not just labor advisory—to mandate prior negotiation with workers before any flexible work arrangement is implemented;
2.      Paid leave for workers to be shouldered by employers and the government;
3.      Pay for workers put on forced quarantine to be shouldered by employers and the government;
4.      Implement work from home arrangements, in applicable jobs, without diminution of wages and benefits;
5.      Provision of personal protective equipment for all health and allied workers in the frontline of covid response;
6.      Living pension for senior citizens since the elderly are more prone to infection;
7.      Shift build-build-build budget to health in order to build more hospitals, provide testing and treatment facilities, hire more health workers;
8.      Health tax on the wealthy—as part of CITIRA—to fund universal health care.

March 20, 2020

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