Saturday, August 21, 2021

Labor coalition bats for regular ayuda amid pandemic new normal

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Saturday said the government, as well as the political wannabes for the 2022 elections, must now consider instituting a universal and regular form of assistance for every Filipino household amid the persisting pandemic condition and economic recession.

The call was made on the day the quarantine status of the National Capital Region (NCR) and several other areas were lowered down to MECQ despite the highest infection rate recorded a day earlier at 17,231. 

“Kahit ang mga eksperto at LGUs ay ipinaubaya na lahat sa Palasyo at IATF desisyon kaya’t hirap at parusa lamang ang babalikan ng ating mga manggagawa. At dahil ang lockdown at ayuda ay magkakambal na usapin, mas makabubuti na magkaroon na ng regular na sistema ng ayuda para sa lahat sa halip na paulit-ulit lamang binabago ang kategorya ng kwarantin. Dahil kung ang pandemya ay pangmatagalan na, ganoon din dapat ang ayuda o sa mas lagpas pang pangangailangan,” said Nagkaisa Chairperson Sonny Matula.

Nagkaisa had been pushing for P10,000 income guarantees for displaced workers and 100-day employment guarantees for the unemployed since the onset of the pandemic, but the government is only able to provide P1,000 subsidy for qualified beneficiaries. The group is now building the widest consensus and solid arguments behind this call for basic income, a measure that it said, “would address many issues such as aggregate demand, employment, chronic poverty, and hunger.”

Basic income, Matula said will also form part of workers electoral agenda.

“Hindi pwedeng paikot-ikot na lamang tayo sa problemang ito. Hindi rin pwedeng gawing permanenteng dahilan ang kakapusan ng pondo dahil may paraan din para dito,” said Matula, adding that universal social protection programs like what is being proposed can be funded through a wealth tax or from what others described as ‘solidarity tax’.  

Matula said workers, “for lack of better choice, have braved the risks of infection and even deaths, travel hazards, lost income, unemployment, and worsening working conditions one year and a half under the pandemic. But living with the same menu under the same regime for the next six years is untenable.” 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

NAGKAISA Commends COA for Making Duterte Admin Accountable

The biggest labor coalition in the country and its affiliated healtcare workers' federations congratulate the Commission on Audit for doing its constitutional duty.

What’s tragic is, Mr. Duterte opted to throw tantrums over the COA report rather than do the right thing - correct the problems and ensure HCWs are properly cared for…. We definitely deserve a real leader!

"We are grateful to and must commend the Commission on Audit for flagging the DOH and other agencies for the unutilized funds, particularly so that many of  health frontliners did not receive their risk allowance and those who died due to CoVID-19 who, until now,  their survivors have been waiting for their survivorship benefits under the Bayanihan 1 and 2, " said Willy Pulia of the Makati Medical Center Employees' Union-AFW-SENTRO.

NAGKAISA holds that COA is merely doing its job under the law. President Duterte is out of sync of the rule of law when he criticized COA for doing its mandate.  Under the fundamental law, COA has the primary function to examine, audit and settle all accounts and expenditures of the funds and properties of the government including all its agencies and instrumentalities.

 "Sec Duque had asserted  that all funds are accounted for but many of our healthcare  workers from different hospitals have not yet received their CoVid Special Risk Allowance (SRA) from DOH", said Manuel Payao RN, Chair of Trade Feferation 8 of the Federation of Free Workers. 

The  Nagkaisa had several dialogues with DOLE and one with DOH but this problem of non-payment of SRA has  no answer but a refrain of "no fund yet" or "wait muna for some time" yet we have unspent P24B of CoVID funds, Payao who is also the union president of UERM Medical Center Employees Union-FFW added.

NAGKAISA observed that many of our HCWs are demoralized due to discrimination or selective giving of  SRA to frontliners. There is need to eliminate the designation  of "red" and "green" areas to avoid discrimination as all in the hospital are exposed to the virus, particularly so that CoVID-19 is airborne.

NAGKAISA calls for the passage of Bayanihan 3 and the liberal interpretation of the law in favor of the workers.

Likewise,  same hazard pay for workers in public and private hospitals in time of pandemic. And additional quarantine leaves at least 10 days minimum for HCWs who have been affected by the CoVID-19 virus.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

NAGKAISA to DOLE: What’s the plan for the P13B unutilized fund?

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Wednesday has asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of its plan on how to utilize its unobligated funds for cash aid programs under the Bayanihan law which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disclosed, still amount to P13 billion.

The labor coalition raised this question as the one-time payout for the measly P1,000 per head ayuda for ECQ3 starts rolling out in ECQ areas. 

“First, there is accountability issue on why DOLE kept this amount unutilized when months into the pandemic workers continue to face a scarcity of ayuda. The second issue is how will the agency make use of this huge amount given the obvious negligence and poor performance,” stated Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula. 

DOLE has requested for a P2-B additional funds for workers to be affected by the new lockdown.

But the DBM last week advised DOLE that before requesting for more cash to aid for workers who will be affected by the two-week lockdown, it should use its unutilized funds first. This P13-B, the DBM said, is part of the P18-B allotment for DOLE under the 2021 budget for the Tulong Panghanap-Buhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), and other programs. 

Matulad said it is very disappointing to know how badly needed funds freeze in cold vaults amid the resounding cry for ayuda of thousands of displaced workers. 

“By their very concept, cash aid and funds for emergency employment are for emergency response. But this not the case in DOLE, and also in DOH. Unless someone has another plan of making these emergency funds a political investment for the upcoming elections,” said Matula, referring to the warnings made earlier by some senators that unutilized funds from the Bayanihan and the 2021 budget can be mobilized for electoral purposes.

The DOLE itself projects that number of workers in NCR who will be affected by the ECQ may reach 300,000-400,000. NEDA’s own estimate puts the number at 600,000. They are in addition to the more than 3.8 million unemployed in June

“Today these are the important numbers to consider and the most urgent concern to address,” concluded Matula.

Nagkaisa has been calling for income guarantee of P10,000 per month for displaced workers including OFWs, and employment guarantee of 100-day per year for the unemployed.

Labor Coalition
12 August 2021