“The government placed workers lives in the hands of private employers who prioritize profit over workers’ health and safety. It has placed workers’ lives in the hands of small employers who do not have the necessary resources,”
By REIN TARINAY
MANILA — Are we safe in our workplace?
This was the questioned posed in a recent webinar as various labor groups have called for occupational safety and health protection for Filipino workers as more businesses resumed operations this week.
Nadia De Leon, executive officer of Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) said that no mass testing, lax policies on workplace safety, policies that will undermine workers’ health, and lack of employers’ and government accountability are a formula for disaster.
“We fear that with these policies, many workers will be infected and die. Unless the government drastically modifies these policies, it will be directly responsible for what will happen to the country’s workers,” De Leon said during the online presser May 20 hosted by Cure Covid. Groups called on the government anew to look into workers’ health, livelihood, and safety with more workplaces opening up.
“The government placed workers lives in the hands of private employers who prioritize profit over workers’ health and safety. It has placed workers’ lives in the hands of small employers who do not have the necessary resources,” said De Leon.
Even before the pandemic, most employers have not been complying with occupational health and safety standards, she added.
Labor leader Sonny Matula said workers have been wanting to return to work as they received no substantial aid from the government during the lockdown.
Apart from the issue of mass testing, Filipino workers are also finding it difficult to commute to their workplaces without public transportation.
“Workers are more vulnerable to acquire COVID-19 if there will be no options for a more accessible means of transportation,” said Sandy Hachasco of Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers.
With the limited access to transportation, more and more workers are now opting to walk from home to their workplace to work.
Restriction of public mass transportation makes social distancing impossible, making them more vulnerable to get infected by the virus. As much as the government is concerned or the lack thereof, not all in the private sector can afford to provide shuttle service to their employees.
We have asked millions of Filipinos in Metro Manila to go back to work, without restarting public transport. Government-chartered Libreng Sakay are strained. Private sector cannot fill the gap – was never a realistic idea.
Call it like it is: we have a transport crisis.
— anton siy (@anthony_siy) May 19, 2020