Labor groups urge gov’t to protect, aid workers

Published May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Leslie Ann G. Aquino

On Labor Day, labor groups called on the government to back up its their praise of workers with “concrete action.”

Josua Mata of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said that just as heroes are celebrated and supported, healthcare and other frontliners should also be accorded the full protection and compensation fitting for their efforts especially during the national health emergency.

“Healthcare and other frontline workers should, for example, be provided personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay, housing support, and transportation under the current circumstances,” he said.

Mata said workers whose means of livelihood have been adversely affected by the imposition of quarantine measures should also be provided with income guarantees, access to existing government programs, aid for affected communities, and the implementation of sound guidelines for workers when economic activity is resumed.

Income guarantees was also one of the Labor Day demands of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.

“Provide universal support like an income guarantee equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage or P10,000 whichever is higher, to avoid the bureaucratic bottlenecks created by targeted support,” Sonny Matula, Nagkaisa chairperson, said in a statement.

It also called for improved protection to all health workers who are disproportionately victimized by the virus and also to build up the public health care delivery.

Nagkaisa also asked for the following: free medical services to workers; subsidy or tax incentives to employers who give hazard pay; assurance of labor conditionalities to any stimulus package to prevent massive lay-off and avert economic recession; and the creation of a Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

The Partido Manggawa, meantime, slammed the government’s push for a “Balik Probinsya” scheme as well as the “Balik Trabaho” proposal in their online Labor Day protest.

“The ‘balik probinsya’ plan of Sec. (Silvestre) Bello and the ‘balik trabaho’ proposal of Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion are both hare-brained pro-capitalist schemes. Labor was not consulted in Bello’s rehash of Bong Go’s plan while Concepcion’s GoNegosyo proposal will endanger workers’ lives,” said Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

“Workers will be sent to the provinces where wages are dirt cheap and will be sent back to work since they are allegedly immune so capitalists can earn bigger profits immediately,” he added.

Magtubo said both proposals are in direct contradiction to the demands being put forward by organized labor in their online protest.

“A proper response to the COVID-19 pandemic should put the needs of the workers and poor first not the interests of capitalists in front and center,” he said.

PM and the Nagkaisa earlier asked workers to make selfies while holding placards with demands and to post it in their social media accounts using the hashtags #AyudangSapatParaSalahat, #BalikTrabahongLigtas, #MakataongTugonHindiMilitarisasyon and #Mayday2020.

Labor groups on Friday resorted to online protests and noise barrage due to the prevailing enhanced community quarantine.