By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros today urged the government’s newly-created job recovery task force to help ensure that Filipino workers are protected and that their workplaces are healthy and COVID-free.
Malacañang recently announced the creation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), which is expected to address the record-high unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dapat siguraduhin na ligtas at hindi magiging COVID-19 hotspots ang mga opisina, pabrika at iba pang lugar ng trabaho sa bansa. Hopefully, more establishments can reopen and get back in business, without causing a spike in COVID-19 infections,” Hontiveros said.
The senator said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), a member of the NERS, should see to the effective enforcement of guidelines like physical distancing, wearing of masks, and regular disinfection of common equipment in all workplaces. This, as data from the DOLE revealed that 20% or one in five workplaces still fail to comply with occupational safety and health protocols.
There must be 100% compliance with COVID-19 protocols in establishments. Filipino employees should feel confident in their return to work, amid this pandemic. They should have the peace of mind that they will not get sick or put their families at risk,” Hontiveros said.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), also, a member of the NERS, should bolster contact-tracing efforts in the country so workers discovered as contacts of persons infected with COVID-19 should be quarantined to avoid further infections in the workplace, she added.
Hontiveros again urged the swift passage of Senate Bill No. 1441, otherwise known as the ‘Balik Trabahong Ligtas’ bill to enable improved measures that will help protect the health of Filipino workers. The bill, which Hontiveros authored and sponsored, mandates several reforms such as full PhilHeath coverage for the hospitalization costs of employees infected with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases during their work, as well as free COVID-19 testing for workers in establishments with 50 or more personnel.
Under the said bill, workers will also be provided with additional paid sick leave days if they are unable to report to work due to infection control protocols. In cases where the worker dies from COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, the bill states that his or her surviving family maybe qualified for a P1 million benefit.
“The better we are able to protect our workplaces, the sooner we will be able to reopen all offices, factories, stores and other establishments. We all want to revive our battered economy. Mas mabilis na aahon ang ating bansa kung iingatan natin ang isa’t-isa,” Hontiveros concluded. (AI.MTVN)