Mass layoff and income losses continue to mount despite the easing of restrictions and the initial rollout of vaccination. Needless to say, the combination of health, economic, and education crises one year under the pandemic is hitting women the hardest when they assumed added burdens as confirmed in several studies.
It is for this reason that members of the Nagkaisa labor coalition were demanding another round of ‘ayuda’ or income support, public employment program, and the protection of labor rights as the group kicks off with its celebration of the women’s month with a rally Thursday at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Isang taon na ang pandemya pero two months lang ang ayuda sa manggagawa. At dahil walang dagdag na ayuda at bagong trabaho, parami pa ng parami ang nagugutom at ang ekonomiya ay hindi rin makabangon. Sa gitna ng kapabayaang ito ng gubyerno ay ang walang kaparis na sakripisyo ng kababaihan bilang breadwinner, caregiver, nanay, at titser,” said Judy Miranda, head of the coalition’s women’s committee and also the secretary general of Partido Manggagawa (PM).
Joining the DOLE action, Miranda said, were women workers who lost their jobs from the continuing company retrenchments, and those who have pending cases before the labor department over illegal dismissals, union-busting, unpaid wages, 13th month, and separation pay, among others.
A scheduled dialogue with the DOLE right after the rally may give workers from the export zones in Cavite, Laguna, Cebu, as well as the teaching and non-teaching personnel in private universities, a chance to seek immediate resolution of their cases and concerns pending before the department which they accuse of imposing social-distancing with the workers.
And as tensions rise between workers and employers due to this lingering crisis, workplace and domestic violence become common, further victimizing women in varying degrees, thus, the workers’ demand for the immediate ratification of ILO’s Convention 190.
“At a time when misogyny is now being normalized in various ways, ILO Convention 190 is precisely what we need today,” said Nice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of the Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro). Women workers were also demanding full protection of their rights as more employers resorted to imposing austerity and anti-union schemes, including union-busting.
"Using the pandemic as an excuse, Provision Gloves Apparel closed its factory in Batangas, only to find out that their main factory remains in operation, under a different name. Management is busting our union and avoiding collective bargaining. This should stop," said Jessica Guerrero, PGA Union-FFW president said.
For her part, Annie Geron, President of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), argued that quality public service requires a healthy and well-protected workforce both in the frontlines and administrative functions.
“Quality evades public service when bosses at the top are also the ones who deny their workers’ the right to form unions and bargain for better working conditions,” said Geron, referring to how senior government officials suppress unionization efforts of their rank-and-file members.
NAGKAISA Labor Coalition-Women’s Committee
4 March 2021