By JOHN PAUL NACION
MANILA — Transport workers are calling for the junking of the “no-vaccination, no-work” order of the country’s task force set-up to control the spread of the pandemic.
A petition denouncing Resolution No. 148-B and 149 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already gathered 3,000 signatories as of Friday.
The resolution orders all establishments and employers to require all employees working in-person to have COVID-19 vaccinations beginning December 1.
“(T)hese rules made by the IATF are not fair or pro-people,” a transport and BPO workers’ group said in a unity statement during the Pandesal Forum.
“These will deprive the employees and their families [of] livelihood, just because the employees are not vaccinated,” they added.
According to the resolution, unvaccinated on-site personnel will be compelled to perform COVID-19 RT-PCR tests on a regular basis “at their own expense”.
The addition of mandatory swab tests every two weeks for those who are unvaccinated will be a burden for low-wage employees, especially because transport workers under the Service Contracting Program have yet to receive their Libreng Sakay Phase 1 and 2 salaries.
Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers (MANIBELA) mobilized their members to protest in front of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board office in Quezon City amplifying the call of poor transport workers to release their full weekly payout under the service contracting program.
“They gave us 800 pesos every day during the Phase 1 implementation, but this was only for three weeks because the payout from LTFRB was too long and our COOP could not keep up,” said Rene Castro, an E-Jeep driver plying the Ortigas Extension route who works 16 hours per day.
“During Phase 2, they promised to give out 1,200 pesos daily, but so far they have only given us 800 pesos. The rest is still with LTFRB and they said it is still being processed,” he added.
In a press release, Anakpawis Party-list Second Nominee and co-convenor of Ayuda Network Lana Linaban said, “That is why we have the Libreng Sakay, as a form of assistance for our frontliners in the economic sector, but the drivers themselves and the conductors who bring them to their workplaces are not being paid properly for their effort and sacrifices. Our call to DOTr and LTFRB is to immediately pay them and to not delay it because the delay of their pay contributes to the detrimental impact of the pandemic. This will push them to hunger and poverty, and to be buried in debt.”
The Service Contracting Program or “Libreng Sakay Program” was terminated by DOTr-LTFRB last November 6, 2021.
With the end of the Libreng Sakay Program, Anakpawis Party-list believes it will be much more difficult for transportation workers to persuade the DOTr-LTFRB to release their delayed payout.
In early September, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the resumption of the Libreng Sakay program, setting aside P3.4 billion in special funds for the P4,000 initial and weekly payouts, as well as P20,000 to P25,000 one-time onboarding incentives for operators and drivers, which will be deposited directly to their Land Bank accounts or GCash e-wallets. The project will also get P3 billion from the national budget for the ensuing fiscal year. (RTS, RVO)