The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department and Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to strictly enforce covid-19 health and safe protocols for workplaces as tens of thousands of workers are going back to work with the reopening of industrial zones in the Calabarzon.
“We demand balik trabahong ligtas. We know that ecozone workers are eager to go back to work since they have suffered from the no work, no pay policies of employers and the insufficient aid provided by the state. But workers should not be risking their lives just to avert death from hunger,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.
He added that “In the new normal, the ecozones are again acting like independent republics with their own laws. The occupational risks for workers will be heightened by the silence of the DOLE-DTI guidelines on enforcement and monitoring of the protocols that it specified. The guidelines have no teeth!”
PM joined the labor coalition Nagkaisa in expressing concern that a second wave of covid infection may occur without mandating companies to institute robust health and safety measures for the workers the moment they leave their homes to report for duty.
Echoing Nagkaisa’s position, Magtubo said that “While the DOLE and the DTI issued joint guidelines on preventing covid-19 infection among the workforce, the guidelines fall short of ensuring a safe environment for workers. It doesn’t even prescribe penalties for any violations.”
“Instead of guidelines, a Department Order should have been issued to compel employers to negotiate with their workers a comprehensive set of protocols to prevent covid and deal with it effectively should it occur,” Magtubo explained.
Nagkaisa identified other major lapses of the joint DTI and DOLE Guidelines as:
> Failure to identify Sars-Cov-2 as an occupational hazard and Covid-19 as an occupational disease.
> No mandatory inspection of companies to ensure their compliance, especially in terms of providing physical distancing.
> No provision for paid 14-day quarantine leaves for workers who may end up being suspected of having Covid-19.
“For the sake of the hundreds of thousands of ecozone workers in the whole Calabarzon region, we ask that the DOLE-DTI Guidelines be revised to make it more effective and with penalties for violations,” Magtubo insisted.
May 16, 2020