Group pays tribute to fallen health workers, frontliners

Published April 29, 2021, 1:49 PM

by Gabriela Baron

A group held a candle-lighting activity to remember Filipino health workers and frontliners who lost their lives in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Health workers candle lighting (Photo from IOHSAD)

On Wednesday night, April 28, Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) marked International Workers’ Memorial Day through a candle-lighting activity in hospitals to pay tribute to those “who have laid their lives in the cause to improve and save workers’ lives.”

“We remember all workers who have died saving the lives of, and providing essential services to, Filipinos. We condemn the government for failing to provide sufficient protection to our workers. At the same time, we raise alarm on the possibility of COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces if the government refused to immediately act on workers’ health and safety demands,” Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD Executive Director, said in a statement.

De Leon also slammed the government’s failure to protect workers health and safety, as well as its failure to provide sufficient cash aid to workers and their families during the pandemic.

Workers’ health has become more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to meager wages, lack of cash aid from the government, and “no work, no pay” scheme, De Leon said.

“There are numerous reports of workers who have been close contacts with confirmed COVID-19 cases and need to undergo quarantine for 14 days and have been deprived of their wages,” she added.

“No worker should have to choose between going to work or getting hungry. Safe workplaces and paid pandemic leaves should be ensured to protect our workers’ health and safety,” de Leon underscored.

Meanwhile, IOHSAD echoed calls for mass testing and aggressive contact tracing in workplaces; free and safe vaccines for workers; and P10,000 subsidy for the poor and a P100 daily wage subsidy for workers.

The group also urged to pass the 14-day paid pandemic leave for employees.

House Bill No. 7909 or the Paid Pandemic Leave Law of 2020 aims to ensure occupational safety and health in workplaces and promote the protection of labor and spillover effects of the pandemic to the economy.

The bill also provides 14 days of paid additional leave to those confirmed, probable, or suspected of contracting COVID-19.

International Workers’ Memorial Day takes place annually around the world on April 28 to remember workers killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work.