By Leslie Ann Aquino
Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines on Monday asked the government about its concrete plans to ensure and prioritize the safety of Filipino workers in view of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread.
Defend Jobs Philippines Spokesperson Thadeus Ifurung said the welfare and best interests of the labor force must be the government and employers’ top priority in dealing with the COVID-19 issue, as their workers are those in the frontline of the production processes and are directly exposed to health vulnerabilities.
“Our Republic Act No. 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) clearly states provisions in dealing with this kind of emergency situation. What the government and employers must do is just sincerely and religiously implement the law to protect and promote the safety and health of Filipino workers,” he said in a statement.
He added that employers should include plans on how to deal with COVID-19 in their current safety and health programs.
Defend Job Philippines also urged the government to mandate all public and private employers to implement a universal mandatory general medical check-up and health plan for all of their workers, whether regular, contractual, or seasonal employees.
This is also aside from providing personal protective equipment to workers including facemasks, hand sanitizers, and the like, and maintaining a clinic in every workplace with at least one resident doctor and licensed registered nurse, as prescribed by law.
“In this kind of situation, the government, through its Labor Department, must ensure the strict compliance of private and public employers to the law on occupational safety and health standards. No life of any single worker must be put to danger and casualty due to the State and employers’ negligence against their employees,” Ifurung said.
On Monday, President Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation 922 declaring a state of public health emergency amid the spread and local transmission of COVID-19 in the country.
This was after the DOH raised the coronavirus alert to Code Red-Sublevel 1 and the recording of 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19. An additional 10 cases have been recorded since then.