Workers displaced due to quarantine hit 630,000

02-Apr-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 12:21 PM Print This Post

More than 630,000 workers nationwide have been displaced by the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported yesterday.

“As of March 31, our field monitoring already recorded more than 630,000 workers displaced either by reason of temporary closure or flexible work arrangements as reported by 15,213 establishments. Of these figures, 169,232 belong to the informal sector,” Bello said.

Bello appealed to employers to immediately submit reports to the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) so that they could extend financial and other necessary assistance to the displaced workers.

“DOLE is bent on providing assistance to as many of our workers in the formal economy sector as much as we give to informal sector workers,” Bello said, although noting that some companies refuse to submit their reports along with the payroll to the detriment of workers.

He said DOLE has distributed P160 million and is accelerating the release of financial assistance to affected workers.

According to Bello, the cash aid provided by DOLE is different from the P5,000 to P8,000 subsidy from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and assistance other agencies are providing under the Bayanihan to Heal As One law.

The new law provides a cash and non-cash Emergency Subsidy Programme (ESP) for two months based on the prevailing regional wage rates, but he said DOLE’s subsidy is a one-time quarantine assistance.

Meanwhile, DOLE informed employers that the one-month enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period is excluded in the six-month probationary period of employees.

In an advisory, DOLE said the period within which the ECQ is imposed will not be included in counting the time an employee is under probationary employment.

Under the Labour Code, probationary employment shall not exceed six months from the date the employee started working. It mandates that an employee who is allowed to work after the six-month probation shall be considered a regular employee.

Yesterday, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) sought the implementation of income guarantees for each worker, including those in the informal economy and the unemployed, affected by the lockdown.

The workers said the current programmes of the government are steps in the right direction, but still insufficient for sustaining the needs of the population.

SENTRO secretary general Josua Mata said the solution is to ensure that working families are able to support themselves through the provision of income guarantees for all affected workers.

“All workers hit by the lockdown should receive government support equivalent to the prevailing regional minimum wage,” Mata said.

More than 6,000 establishments that employ about 190,000 workers have suspended operations because of the Luzon-wide lockdown for COVID-19, a report submitted by President Duterte to Congress showed.

Duterte placed Luzon, home to more than 57 million people, under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 13 because of the rising cases of COVID-19. The policy, which was intended to contain the disease, forced several businesses to close temporarily and informal and daily wageworkers to depend on food aid from government.?Data cited in Duterte’s first weekly report to Congress showed that more businesses chose to close shop temporarily compared to those who adopted flexible work arrangements.

“The DOLE has likewise noted 3,082 establishments (with 137,496 affected workers) implemented flexible work arrangements while 6,060 (with 190,932 affected workers) opted temporary closure,” the report read.

All government offices in the executive branch, meanwhile, have adopted alternative working arrangements, the report said. ?To provide relief to the affected workers, the administration has announced an unprecedented P200 billion aid package that will provide emergency support to low-income households for two months.

The assistance will come in the form of cash assistance and food aid to families with at least one member belonging to vulnerable or disadvantaged sectors including senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, indigents, indigenous people, public transportation, drivers, informal economy workers house helpers, operators of small stores and vendors.

The social welfare department will also provide P5,000 to P8,000 subsidies to 18 million low-income households for two months.

Earlier, the National Economic and Development Authority said the COVID-19 pandemic may slow economic growth to 4.3 percent or may even contract the country’s economy by 0.6 percent this year if mitigation measures are not undertaken. About 116,000 to 1.8 million jobs in the country may be lost because of the disease, the agency said.



Category: Philippines

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