Thursday, April 30, 2020

Labor coalition hits “Emperor Joey Concepcion” for ‘virus-resilient poor’ comment

Workers groups find not only bad taste but also class insult from Presidential adviser Joey Concepcion’s remark Wednesday that the poor may now be allowed to go back to work as they seem to be resilient to viruses.

This is a total disregard of the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights. His reason is highly discriminatory to the working poor – are hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis and therefor need more protection than ever.

“Here we have a Presidential adviser who talks like an emperor. Roman emperors of ancient history had forced their slaves to continue building roads, aqueducts, monuments and palaces even during pandemics. It is not because the emperor saw immortality in the poor but simply because slaves are disposable subjects,” said the group in a statement.

According to Concepcion, many of the poor are somehow resilient to the virus, may be because they are so used to so much exposure that they have better immunity than the rich who are sheltered in well- protected environment. As a strategy he simply proposed sheltering the healthy and isolating the infected.

Nagkaisa! slammed Concepcion for his shameless display of class privilege at a time the labor movement is demanding strongly for a #BalikTrabahongLigtas or a safe return to work policy, mindful of the grave consequences of massive infection and reinfection from unsafe workplaces, transportation and public spaces.

Aimed at convincing the public that they are working to ensure the safety of workers, it is Concepcion who pushed for the Palace’s adoption of rapid antibody test to be implemented under business groups’ Project Antibody Rapid Test Kits (ARK).

Contrary to this, labor groups are pushing for a a more reliable PCR-based mass testing as well as full Philhealth coverage, and business’ full compliance to OSH law and other labor standards.

“Balik Trabahong Ligtas” is one of the Labor Day demands of Nagkaisa. This requires the issuance of a new DOLE Department Order requiring employers to negotiate with the unions a comprehensive Covid-19 protocol at the company and industry levels that would ensure a safe working condition. The other demands include “Ayudang Sapat Para sa Lahat” and building up the capacity of our public healthcare system, among others.

With all roads remaining closed, Nagkaisa and other labor groups are shifting to different forms of online protest.

“Kahit lockdown ay may laban pa rin tayo onlayn,” Nagkaisa said.

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