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KMU says workers should not bear brunt of Covid-19 impact

A leftist labor group urged employers in the country to provide necessary protection for the workers as the number of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases continue to rise in the country.

This came after President Rodrigo 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 to contain the outbreak.

In a press statement released yesterday, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) bared that the daily wages and the worker’s job security “should not be affected.,” even with the adjustments measures imposed by the companies.

“Daily wages during the 14-day mandatory quarantine of patients must not be charged from the sick leave benefits of workers,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.

“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,” he said. “We urge all employers to guarantee the health and safety of workers from the virus at the factory floor.”

The government’s effort, Labog said, “is simply not enough and sorely lacking.”

The KMU leader also noted that it is also the responsibility of employers to provide emergency medical care and facilities for infected workers. The flexible working hours being recommended by DOLE must not affect the income and job security of workers, “as they need livelihood most in this time of crisis.”

For instance, recommendations on social distancing remain vague if there is no commitment from companies and agencies for the health and security of the workers.

“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,” he said.

The government should enforce the strict compliance on the Occupational Health and Safety Law. This includes mandating companies to provide workers with masks, proper screening, safety gear, and other precautionary measures.

A health fund must also be created, which should cover proper quarantine measures and medical attention of the workers.

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