Villanueva stresses need for laws to protect freelancers from starvation pay such as Foodpanda riders

Villanueva stresses need for laws to protect freelancers from starvation pay such as Foodpanda riders

By Ernie Reyes

Influencer Ivana Alawi takes a “selfie” with a food delivery rider in this Maharlika TVN file photo

MANILA — Food couriers are “essential frontliners” and it will be an “irony if those who help feed the nation are on starvation pay and ignored.”

This was pointed out by Senator Joel Villanueva in calling for issuance from DOLE and a directive from the President to ensure protection and just compensation for food delivery riders and other “freelancers in the gig economy” while legislation to cover these workers was underway.

“Trade and commerce have evolved as the pandemic hastened the use of gig platforms from food to grocery shopping. Our laws must capture new work arrangements which is why in the Senate, we have pushed for the passage of the freelance workers protection bill and the digital workforce competitiveness bill. A directive from the President himself during his SONA this Monday, will help to emphasize the urgency of these measures,” Villanueva said.

“Maaari pong atasan ng Pangulo ang DOLE na maglabas ng mga patakaran na gumagarantiya sa karapatan at kapakanan ng mga food delivery riders at mga manggagawang nasa gig economy,” he added.

“But for urgent and immediate intervention, a department order from DOLE, if not an Executive Order from the President, will provide immediate relief to the workers. For institutional adjustment, the President’s endorsement of the two pending bills as urgent would be very welcome,” he said.

Villanueva has already brought for discussions in the plenary the Freelance Workers Protection bill, or Senate Bill No. 1810, which seeks to define and recognize workers under freelance arrangement. Freelance workers, under the measure, include food couriers and delivery riders.

“Ang nais po nating po mangyari, may inputs po ang executive branch dito dahil mahirap naman na ipapasa ng Senate at ng House pagkatapos may bubulong sa Pangulo na i-veto yan tulad nang nangyari sa Anti-Endo Bill,” Villanueva said.

He was referring to the bill that curtails abuse in the so-called “end of contract” termination of workers that ended up vetoed by the President during the 17th Congress.

Villanueva said services provided by workers in app-based platforms “who are basically paid on a per transaction basis will outlast the pandemic and shall become part of the way we buy and sell goods.”

“Ang problema po ngayon ay may vacuum kung ano ang kanilang mga karapatan na dapat i-garantiya ng pamahalaan bilang mga manggagawa na may proteksyon sa ilalim ng batas,” he said. “Sa ngayon po, hindi kinikilala sa mata ng ating mga batas ang mga freelance workers. Kaya po ang pagsusulong sa freelancers protection bill ang ating aksyon at solusyon sa isyung ito.” (ai/mtvn)

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