Labor Day rallies to press for pandemic aid, workers’ protection
Senators and labor groups are calling on the government to move beyond platitudes and honor workers with stronger steps to protect them from the hardships brought about by the pandemic.
Despite restrictions on mass assemblies, thousands of workers are expected to hold Labor Day rallies in Manila and other urban centers across the country on Saturday.
They opted for an online protest last year due to the stringent lockdown. But this year, the Kilusang May Uno said it would be done outdoors but would adhere to health regulations.
“The pathway to giving back is treating our workers with dignity, giving them decent wage, ensuring their protection in the workplace and alleviating the impacts of unemployment,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.
The senator lauded the decision of the Employees’ Compensation Commission to include COVID-19 in its list of occupational and work-related diseases. “Our workers show up every day and put their lives at risk so that everyone else could stay home and be safe. They deserve the protection they need,’’ he added.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said the government’s plan to vaccinate a select group of workers on Labor Day “should go beyond the symbolic to something that is sustained.”
“I hope that it is not a one-day show, but the start of a regular program to vaccinate workers. We owe it to our economic frontliners to conduct vaccinations daily and not just on Labor Day,” Villanueva said.
P10K cash aid
KMU chair Elmer Labog said his group would press its demand for a P10,000 “urgent cash aid” for the unemployed and marginalized sectors, as well as the P100 daily wage subsidy for workers and P15,000 production subsidy for farmers.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said it would conduct online job fairs and career counseling on Labor Day, as well as house-to-house distribution of more than 2,000 food packs in distressed areas in Metro Manila.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III conceded that this year’s Labor Day could be the country’s worst, with at least 4.2 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed based on official data as of February.
“In a way you can say that. But you have to consider that our workers (are) a breed of resilient workers. They are not only prepared to react to any challenge, they are also prepared for any challenge,” Bello told reporters on Wednesday.
The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) would not be able to deliver the P24 billion wage subsidy proposed by an inter-agency employment recovery task force, or an additional cash aid for millions of workers displaced by the pandemic. Reports from DJ Yap, Nikka Valenzuela, Dexter Cabalza and Dona Pazzibugan
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