May 18, 2020
UNION TO DEFY EMPLOYER'S BACK-TO-WORK ORDER, DEMANDS FACTORY DISINFECTIONS AND OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY BEFORE RESUMPTION OF PRODUCTION
The labor union at Everbright Net and Twine, a rope manufacturer located at Edison Ave., in Sun Valley Paranaque, has resisted the back-to-work order of their employer, citing the need for factory disinfection and occupational safety measures before returning to work.
The union is an affliate of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reform (SUPER) Federation.
The Everbright workers did not receive any amelioration from DOLE-CAMP despite the application of their employer last March.
Teddy Fernandez, president ng Lakas Manggagawa sa Everbright-SUPER said, "Walang manggagawa na nais tumigil sa trabaho lalupa hindi naman pinaghandaan ng gobyerno ang ayuda para sa manggagawa nang biglaan nitong ipatupad ang lockdown. Halos lahat ng pangangailangan namin ay kailangang bilhin, at para magkaroon ng pambili, kailangan naming ibenta ang aming lakas-paggawa kapalit ng sweldo. Subalit kung mapepeligro naman ang manggagawa (kasama ang kanyang pamilya, na maaring mahawa sa kanya dahil sa COVID19) dahil sa kanyang pagtatrabaho, nawawalan ng saysay ang trabaho. Imbes na maging hanapbuhay, ito ay nagiging hanap-patay. Hindi kami magdadalawang-isip na maglunsad ng mass action para sa mass testing".
Fernandez added, "Nagkaisa na ang lahat ng manggagawa. Huwag na munang pumasok ngayon. Sundin muna ang guidelines ng syudad ng Paranaque na dapat sumailalim muna ang lahat ng papasok sa rapid testing sa sakit na COVID19".
BMP and SUPER president Luke Espiritu asserted, "We commmend the LGU of Paranaque for having the political will to impose mandatory mass testing of employees before any resumption of company operations. It is a far-cry from the lame DTI-DOLE guidelines on workplace prevention and control of COVID19, which places the conduct of mass testing by employers as a mere option". Section 7 of the DTI/DOLE guidelines states that "employers may test workers for COVID19".
Espiritu expounded, "But we are not surprised, after all DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez is a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist having served as underboss of RFM CEO and billionaire Joey Concepcion. The trade secretary shares the same elitist breeding with his boss, who now serves as advisor to Duterte and was quoted for saying that the poor are resilient to sickness because of their daily and prolonged exposure to risks".
"For employers like Lopez and Concepcion, precautionary measures for worker protection and safety are an added and unnecessary expense. Yet, it is optional for employers in order to showcase their alleged benevolence as philanthropists," the labor leader explained.
The BMP is pushing for mandatory measures such as mass testing and adequate medical facilities for workers, continued distribution of amelioration and relief packages to the poor (including workers who are permanently and temporarily displaced by the COVID19 quarantine), strict compliance to occupational safety and work standards, hazard pay, quarantine leaves and transportation allowance. The group also called for the setting up near-workplace accommodation for employees to minimize their mobility and possible exposure to the SARS-COV2 virus.
Espiritu furthered, "Local trade union leaders could easily see through the shameless profiteering by abusive employers, who have neither regard nor care for the welfare of their workers, in spite of the life-threatening COVID19 pandemic. The propertied are again playing on the desperation of the toiling and impoverished masses, not for the so-called revival of the economy, but for the unfettered creation of profit, rent, interest, taxes for the entire capitalist class".
"The refusal to work by the Everbright labor union is portent of things to come. Workers may invoke their right to refuse unsafe work in order to prevent the worse case scenario, not only to save their families from the deadlier second wave of COVID19 deaths and transmissions but also to save our medical frontliners and health care. Such noble acts of selflessness are more innate to the working class than to employers who are bred in the dog-eat-dog world of mindless capitalist competition". #