By Warren Valdez
DAVAO CITY – With the Department of Health’s (DOH) confirmation of a local transmission of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-2019), an independent labor center has urged employers in the country to give the necessary protections of workers as part of ensuring their safety in workplaces.
This came following President Duterte’s declaration of a public health emergency through an executive order on March 8, and the subsequent issuances of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Inter Agency Task Force, after the coronavirus infected more patients in the country.
In a press statement Tuesday, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) bared that the daily wages and the worker’s job security “should not be affected” even with the adjustments measure that will be be imposed by companies.
“Production is necessarily a social activity and concentrated in workplace. The guidelines set forth by the Inter-Agency are ambiguous and may be subject to abuse,” KMU said, pointing out the guidelines provided do not indicate clear measures on how secured are workers on their workplaces.
“We urge all employers to guarantee the health and safety of workers from the virus at the factory floor,” said KMU in its statement.
The government’s effort, it said, “is simply not enough and sorely lacking.”
KMU also noted that it was also the responsibility of employers to provide emergency medical care and facilities for workers afflicted with the virus, and that the “flexible working hours’ being recommended by the DOLE must not affect the income and job security of workers, “as they need livelihood most in this time of crisis.”
“We view that resolutions on social distancing which include alternative arrangement for workers remain vague, as long as there’s no commitment from companies and agencies for workers’ and health security,” KMU added.
“Concern on business losses must include the losses incurred if workers would lose their livelihood. Sufficient funds should be allotted by employers and government institutions aside from the PhilHealth and SSS benefits which we all know are being siphoned off for private gains. Strict compliance on Occupational Health and Safety Law must be observed,” the KMU said.
KMU also said that the workers health fund must be able to provide them with masks, screening, and other precautionary measures necessary for the prevention of the spread of the disease.
The health fund, it added, should also cover proper quarantine measures and medical attention of the workers.
“Daily wages during the 14-day mandatory quarantine of patients must not be charged from the sick leave benefits of workers,” the KMU said.