Monday, March 9, 2020

Employers asked to bear losses due to covid instead of passing costs to workers

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The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on employers to shoulder temporary losses instead of laying off workers, implementing forced leaves or putting them on work rotation since these all result in income losses. This was their call in time for a tripartite meeting this afternoon convened by the Department of Labor and Employment on the employment impact of the covid outbreak.

“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, companies are about to benefit from less taxes with the CITIRA proposal. Now that there is a crisis, employers are morally obliged not to pass on the burden to their hapless workers,” asserted Judy Ann Miranda, PM Secretary-general.

She insisted that “We cannot accept that workers are the last to benefit from economic progress but the first to sacrifice in time of crisis. Women workers are also disproportionately impacted by permanent or temporary loss of employment and income.” This was also the demands of the International Women’s Day commemoration yesterday.

The group is also 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.

Miranda also reported increasing number of workers are being put on forced leaves in the Mactan Cebu ecozone due to the global supply chain connection to China. Likewise, hotels and restaurants in Region 7 are reeling from reduced tourism and thus the threat of layoffs is looming.

March 9, 2020

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