March 26, 2020

Almost 2 weeks has passed since President Duterte placed Luzon under an Enhanced Community Quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, causing work stoppage and suspension of mass transportation. 

Amid the current crisis, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) expresses great concern for our healthworkers and frontliners who continue to face the risk of being exposed to this deadly disease. 

“We salute and give our highest recognition to all frontline and health workers who continue to risk their lives in taking care of patients. We also recognize workers in manufacturing companies, supermarkets, pharmacy, delivery services, security guards, janitors and all workers who continue to provide services despite the threat to health we currently face. They and their families deserve all the assistance and support they need,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director. 

Aside from these kind of workers, Dutere also exempted from the quarantine workers in export-oriented industries and employees in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. 

“Exempting BPO employees and economic zone workers only shows how this government puts prime importance to the profit of big, foreign capitalists over the safety of its people. Most of these companies do not provide essential goods but they are allowed to continue to operate despite the threat to the health of its workers. Some of these workers are even forced to stay at work to avoid getting late or avoid to walk long distances.  Until now, DOLE has yet to provide clear guidelines to companies that will ensure the health, safety and job security of these workers,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director. 

CTUHR has been receiving reports of workers being forced to report to work, ‘No Work, No Pay’ workers facing threat of losing their jobs and unsafe working conditions of those who opted to stay at their workplaces. 

CTUHR says that the lack of clear guidelines for workers who are exempted from the community quarantine adds up to their vulnerabilities of these workers. Arago asserts that the government must ensure the protection of health and safety and the rights of these workers.  

President Duterte has recently authorized the grant of a hazard pay to government workers who are still reporting to work amid the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine thru Administrative Order 26. The COVID-19 Hazard Pay amounts to P500 per day. CTUHR welcomes this development, a clear product of tireless clamor of public sector employees. 

CTUHR stands that all workers including ecozone workers and BPO employees who are continuously providing their labor or services despite the threat of contracting COVID-19 should be entitled to hazard pay. “Continuous provision of transport, temporary decent accommodations and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have to be ensured as well as the hazard pay as consolation for their hard work and sacrifice. The danger they face everyday just to maintain business as usual, especially foreign businesses. They deserve to have additional take home pay for their families.”

Furthermore, CTUHR maintains that workers who are affected by work stoppage should be provided sufficient and immediate assistance.###