14 March 2020
Workers slam DTI and DOLE measures on Metro lockdown
Militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) criticized the prescriptions provided by both the Trade and Labor departments for workers during the month-long period Metro Manila will remain on lockdown which the group claimed were inconsiderate, grossly anti-poor and arithmetically improbable.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez stipulated in a press conference Friday that the more than three million workers living outside Metro Manila but working in the metropolis must find a place to rent and for the informal workers to sell their wares outside the Metro Manila during the duration of the lockdown which starts on March 15.
While Labor Secretary Silvestre Belllo issued Labor Advisory #9 which encouraged employers to implement flexible work arrangements. This includes the reduction of workhours and workdays, rotation of workforce and forced leaves.
“Like everybody else, workers and their families want to contribute to address the spread of COVID-19 but to take away our measly incomes for an entire month or ask us to make good with so little is already lethal if not fatal to our well-being,” said Dominic Dilao, vice president of the group.
He adds that ordinary folks, even employees with regular work status are already living in the fringes of poverty and will only sink further with the reduction of their regular incomes because most fall under the “no work, no pay policy”.
Besides being detrimental, Dilao continued that the advisories were not only carefully studied but also lacking of any form of consultation with the sectors affected.
BMP says that “social distancing” is not applicable and realizable with the present state of the metro’s transportation and urban planning. This they say is a consequence of the state’s reliance on the private sector.
They also argued that factories and workplaces are natural congregations, worse most of the factories in the metro maybe considered sweatshops – cramped and with poor working conditions to maximize profits.
The group claimed that there are even factories with no running water, poor sanitation and violate health and safety regulations. They want employers to provide free testing kits.
“We have toiled so much and are solely responsible for the profits and success of companies, its about time we are paid back as part of our fair share of the pie during these trying times,” he said.
Workers demanded that the both departments should ensure that their would be no diminution of wages and benefits of workers during the duration of the lackdown and that companies must not take it against the workers if they get tied up in traffic in checkpoints and testing centers to be set up at the entry points of the metropolis once the lockdown is enforced.
“The Duterte administration is making ordinary folk fully bear the adverse consequences of their delayed response to the outbreak and have taken nothing away from the employers in an effort to ensure that profit margins of companies remain high despite the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dilao declared.
To cushion the impact of the month-long lockdown, BMP wants the government to defer the collection of payroll taxes such as SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig and ensure that employers continue paying their contributions. They also seek the suspension of indirect taxes such as the value added tax and excise duties on petroleum and petroleum products under the Train Law.###