First in PH history: Labor Day protest to go online amid COVID-19 pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 pandemic has surely been changing systems and lifestyles this year, even how activists intend to hold their Labor Day protest.
For the very first time, the usually massive assembly of workers on May 1 will take their demonstration in cyberspace amid the prevailing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon due to the viral outbreak.
Labor groups led by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said Tuesday that they are already gearing up for the May 1 demonstrations by shifting to an online protest and localized protests, instead of the traditional gathering and march towards the Mendiola Peace Arch.
For this year, the Labor Day theme would focus on the demands for the government to adopt a medical-based solution to the pandemic instead of a militarist stance, as well as the health and financial needs of workers amid the pandemic.
“We can’t emphasize enough the urgency of government to provide immediate relief to all workers. From the President’s report on the 5th week of ECQ, only about 300,000 were given financial aid out of 2million displaced workers,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.
“This is the first time in history our Labor Day protest will be like this, we are ready to go online! Despite the ECQ we will make sure Duterte hears our battle cry,” Nagkaisa chair and lawyer Sonny Matula added.
The labor groups apparently discussed their movement through an online meeting, in observance of physical distancing measures under ECQ. But they assured that they will still conduct noise barrages in their respective homes so the ECQ’s travel restrictions would not be violated.
According to Nagkaisa Women’s Judy Miranda, the government should adopt measures that would help workers, including the continuation of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) for workers displaced by the lockdown, instead of the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SWBS) program.
Several workers prefer the Department of Labor and Employment’s CAMP as it is more convenient for workers compared to SWBS which requires companies to register first with the Social Security System.
Meanwhile, business process outsourcing (BPO) workers have also slammed DOLE for leaving them to operate on their own.
“We urge the government to strengthen CAMP instead of changing to SBWS. In CAMP, there is flexibility on the part of workers. All you need is an ID and payslip to avail of the financial aid, while in SBWS, your employer has to be compliant first with SSS and BIR. It’s very restrictive” Miranda explained.
“This is a manifestation that our efforts to keep the economy alive means nothing to this government. We are neglected and DOLE has admitted they are not aware of the working conditions of BPO workers” BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) president Mylene Cabalona added.
Work for all sectors except those in essential frontline services have been suspended with the ECQ. This has forced workers who rely on daily wages and those whose jobs cannot adjust to a work-from-home scheme without any income through the lockdown.
In the past years, workers from various sectors assembled at different points in Quezon City and Manila, and marched simultaneously towards Mendiola Arch, where a program would be held and effigies would be burned. However, the groups have not yet clarified how these events would translate in an online protest.
As of now, the Department of Health said there are now 7,958 patients infected with the coronavirus nationwide, of which 530 have died and 975 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 3.04 million individuals have been infected, while at least 210,913 have died from the disease and over 889,406 have recovered from it.
READ: 43 COVID-19 patients recover as coronavirus infection in PH nears 8,000 https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1266057/43-covid-19-patients-recover-as-coronavirus-infection-in-ph-nears-8000
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