Unions want wage subsidy for workers to be displaced by MECQ

Workers who will be displaced by the 15-day modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces should be given aid by the government, labor group Partido Manggagawa said on Monday.

PM national chair Rene Magtubo, particularly appealed to the government to give a wage subsidy to the thousands of workers to be affected.

"The no work, no pay policy at the start of the MECQ tomorrow will mean hunger for millions of workers in Mega Manila. All of them should receive a wage subsidy," he said in a statement.

Magtubo added that the mechanism for distributing aid to workers should be worked out in consultation with organized labor.

Aside from wage subsidy, he said, workers should also be given a voice in the recalibration of the COVID-19 response, specifically on workplace safety and public transportation. 

Meanwhile, President Duterte's abrupt reimposition of MECQ in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal drew flak from Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).

BMP president Luke Espiritu said the administration should have learned from the many failures of the previous lockdown.

"How do they expect to control panic buying when they only give one day notice before they enforce another strict lockdown? How will they ensure transport for those working in essential businesses allowed to operate during MECQ when all transport is once again suspended?" he said.

"Most importantly how will they support the millions of workers, unemployed, and those in the informal sector still reeling from mass layoffs and economic downturn without first ensuring sufficient amelioration programs for the duration of the new lockdown?" added Espiritu.

The labor leader said the Duterte administration did not actually heed the call for 'timeout' of  frontliners when it imposed the MECQ because among their calls was sufficient social amelioration for all affected by a lockdown.

"The administration's haphazard reinstatement of MECQ demonstrates that they did not understand or blatantly refuse to address one of the main criticisms of their pandemic response that medical experts and professionals complained about," he said.