Speed up vaccination of workers, gov't urged

Published September 4, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Labor groups urged the national government to speed up the rollout of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program of workers.


In a joint statement, the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) and the Institute for Occupational Health Safety and Development (IOHSAD) stressed that workers’ demands for health and livelihood must be given priority by the government.

“We call on the government to speed up vaccination of workers, especially those in economic zones in cities outside Metro Manila. They are essential workers yet there is no program to prioritize them. We also cannot emphasize more the need to economically support those who are forced to go on quarantine,” MWAP National Coordinator Julius Carandang said.

Carandang also called on the government to certify the 14-day paid pandemic leave bill as urgent, saying it can help curb COVID-19 spread in workplaces and potentially prevent workers’ death from the virus.

“Thousands of workers have died due to COVID-19 and many more have fallen ill [from] the disease. We cannot say that workers simply violated health protocols that is why they got sick or died,” IOHSAD Executive Director Nadia de Leon said.

De Leon attributed the rising infections among workers to the continuous spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.

She also cited the construction site in Quezon City which recently went on lockdown after several of its employees caught COVID-19 and an electronics company in Laguna where 300 of its workers have fallen ill to the viral illness.

“Up to now, there is no free mass testing and vaccination is very slow, and hospital capacity hardly increased since the pandemic began, making it more difficult to treat severe and critical cases especially whenever there is a surge,” de Leon added.

According to the Civil Service Commission, at least 1,600 government workers succumbed to COVID-19.

“We are calling for accountability and justice for all the workers who have died to COVID-19. Workers, who are in the frontlines of our economy, do not deserve to die of COVID-19. Especially now that COVID-19 vaccines are available, the government should prioritize vaccinating workers. They face the threat of COVID-19 every day with bare minimum protections,” de Leon reiterated.

IOHSAD also called on the Employees’ Compensation Commission to make compensation to workers who got infected with COVID-19 more accessible and relax some of its requirements for claims to make it easier for workers to receive compensation.