by Franco Luna (Philstar.com) – 17 Mar 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment on Tuesday said it would be rolling out a P180-million emergency employment program for workers affected by the newly-declared enhanced community quarantined, which would be used to pay for barangay works to disinfect communities.
This, after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced in an interview with ANC’s “Early Edition” that there would be no double pay and hazard pay granted to those who would come in to work that day.
The night before, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that mainland Luzon would be placed under an enhanced community quarantine, under which all work would have to be done in a work from home arrangement and movement would be severely restricted.
All public transportation was also suspended as a result, despite concerns that those in the informal sector would be left without income for an extended period.
According to Bello, the Labor department would shoulder the labor of regular employees by hiring them to disinfect school and government buildings in their areas.
Appeal to conglomerates
For other workers, the Labor secretary said that they could use their leave credits throughout the implementation of community quarantine.
No mention of contractual and endo workers—whom groups say number in the millions—was made in either statement.
“Endo” is from “end of contract,” from a practice of hiring contractual labor for periods of fewer than six months, which excluded workers from mandated work benefits as regular employees.
“There will be as many jobs as needed. We don’t expect as big a number; we expect big companies to shoulder the one month salary of employees who will be affected,” he also said in the interview that morning.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Bello also called on private conglomerates to assist their workers during the enhanced community quarantine.
“I particularly make this appeal to the owners and managements of Filipino conglomerates,” Bello said in a statement, mentioning the Ayalas, Yuchengos and Villars by name.
He said similar companies could “very well take care of their workers and employees for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine.”
The latest quarantine level is set to stay the same until the second week of April.
“In this way, DOLE may be able to address the pressing needs of the rest of the affected workers in the quarantined areas,” the statement read.
In an earlier exchange with Philstar.com, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno bared the following demands for the government:
That the government along with the private sectors fund massive testing for their workers owing to the country’s Occupational Safety & Health Law
That if workers who are persons under investigations are later quarantined, this should be with pay
That companies not use the ongoing virus as a reason to remove workers
That companies immediately disinfect and take other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19
During his nationwide address on Monday, Duterte also called on private companies to contribute food supplies for those in need.
“It’s not a matter of food or business or getting back your capital. It is a matter of helping one another,” he said.
“Itong mga big companies. You might be really to alleviate the situation just by understanding the plight of workers who aren’t working now. If you try to help, kindly tumulong na lang kayo.”
He also urged employers to roll out early pro-rated 13th month pay for workers to cushion the blow of the month-long quarantine.
“Those big enterprises here, maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just pay them half of their salary if the employees lose their jobs as a way of showing your solidarity to Filipinos at this critical time,” Duterte said in a televised address.
“Kahit pro-rated lang. Tulong sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.