30 July 2021
The Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) called on Congress to immediately legislate a paid pandemic leave amid rising cases of Covid 19 cases in Metro Manila and other cities due to the Delta variant.
“As we braze for another surge of Covid 19 cases due to the more contagious Delta variant, protection of workers health and income should be a top priority. Workers in manufacturing companies in economic zones report to work every day. Needless to say, they are at heightened risk of getting sick with this more contagious Covid 19 strain. Paid pandemic leave should be legislated now,” Julius Carandang, MWAP National Coordinator said.
Citing a report of the OECD early into the pandemic, the group said that paid sick leaves including workers who are on quarantine due to the pandemic proved to be an effective means of protecting workers’ health and jobs which also prevented the further spread of virus in the workplace and the community and benefitted both companies and the entire economy in general.
Workers left behind
The group lamented that the Duterte government has left workers’ well-being and livelihood behind during the pandemic.
“In his final State of Nation Address last July 26, President Duterte had no mention at all of how the government will provide economic relief to workers during the pandemic. Meager wages of workers have been stagnant since 2018 and wages’ real value has been eroded by rising prices of commodities prior and even more during the pandemic,” Carandang said.
“Aid to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic has also been very limited despite the fact that the national budget increased from Php 4.1 trillion to Php 4.5 trillion from 2020 to 2021. Recently, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also granted the government a loan of Php 540 billion for its pandemic relief response. Part of this could be used to support the paid pandemic leave and wage subsidy workers have been clamoring for,” Carandang added. #