NGO places blame on gov’t for spike in virus cases in workplaces
MANILA, Philippines — Possible clustering and increase in COVID-19 cases in workspaces can be blamed on the government’s alleged refusal to look after workers’ welfare, a non-government organization (NGO) said on Monday.
The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (Iohsad) explained that the guidelines released by the government for companies were not enough to curb infections among certain offices after the government allowed certain industries to resume operations last May.
The NGO noted that several clusters of cases within workplaces have been noted since the country shifted to a modified enhanced community quarantine, and eventually a general community quarantine.
“The spike in COVID-19 cases in workplaces only shows that our workplaces are not safe. The two guidelines released by the government are a failure in protecting workers from the deadly disease,” Iohsad executive director Nadia de Leon said in a statement.
“The workers reported to unsafe workplaces and the government is to blame,” she added.
Last August 16, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment mandated large and medium-sized companies to offer shuttle services for their employees so that they would not need to commute to and from the office.
The joint memorandum also pushed companies to designate temporary isolation facilities for employees who would show COVID-19 symptoms.
The clustering that Iohsad included reports on over 300 Taguig construction workers contracting the disease, which forced the local government to place the said area on lockdown.
Then, at least 202 Metro Rail Transit personnel were infected — raising questions on passenger safety especially as some of the patients worked at ticketing booths. They also noted that employees of various companies like a factory in Laguna, call center employees in Iloilo and several other corporations have registered cases already.
Last August 17, the Department of Health reported 1,245 cases of clustering nationwide. Of this number, 1,054 were registered as communities, 68 hospitals, 30 jails or prison.
But 93 of the clusters are work areas.
What the government must do, according to Iohsad, is to heed demands from workers as well as employers, and to conduct measures like mass testing instead of leaving it to companies to test workers.
“Workers are now like OFWs who continue to go to war-torn areas despite knowing the dangers. Some force themselves to report for work even if they experience Covid-19 symptoms. Like OFWs, they fear that the government will not be able to protect them from the danger in their work,” De Leon stated.
“Many workers are now sick of Covid-19 because of government neglect. The government refuses to implement mass testing, carries out snail-paced and inefficient contact-tracing, and denies financial assistance to workers who have tested positive or were exposed to those who are positive,” she added.
As of now, there are over 194,000 cases in the country, with 3,010 fatalities and 132,042 recoveries.
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