Deployment cap on healthcare workers covers new applicants only — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   November 25, 2020   •   447

MANILA, Philippines — Health workers who wish to work abroad may now begin processing their documents after the lifting of the deployment ban that was imposed early this year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said about 90% to 95% of health workers going abroad are nurses while the remaining percentage normally are doctors, dieticians, or some anaesthesiologists. 

But the official noted that only 5,000 health care workers will be allowed to leave each year. 

The said number only covers first new applicants and is apart from those under the Balik-Manggagawa program or those who have existing contracts abroad but are on vacation in the Philippines.

Bello explained that there is a chance that the deployment cap may increase depending on the recommendation from the Department of Health (DOH) in consideration to the health care system in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that before the pandemic started, about 12,000 to 16,000 health workers left the country each year for better employment abroad.

Ayaw lang natin na mangyari na walang limit ang dami ng lalabas. Pagdating ng panahon lumala itong pandemya at wala tayong mga nurses tayo naman ang kawawa (We cannot just allow that there is no limit in the number of departures. In case the pandemic situation in the country worsens and we don’t have enough nurses, we would suffer),” Bello said.

Meanwhile, Bello confirmed that DOLE is now pushing for a salary increase for nurses in the private sector to make it equal to that of nurses in the government sector which is at P30,000 for an entry level.

Currently, the highest salary that a nurse in the private firm receives is about P18,000 a month that’s why Bello urges private hospitals to also take into consideration the welfare of their respective health workers.

May mga nurses pa na sa halip na sila ang sinuswelduhan sila pa ang nagbabayad (There are nurses who, instead of receiving a salary, are the ones shelling out money) under the guise of training fee,” he said.

The official noted that there is now a bill filed in Congress that seeks a salary increase for nurses in the private sector. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOLE to open 5,000 contact tracer jobs for NCR Plus

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is set to hire around 5,000 contact tracers as part of its emergency employment assistance program.

The job vacancy will be opened next week once the details of the application are finalized between DOLE and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Salary will be based on regional wage rate. So for National Capital Region (NCR), each contact tracer will receive a minimum wage per day of P537 or around P16,000 per month.

Atty. Ma. Karina Trayvilla, director of DOLE – Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) said successful applicants will be provided training for the job but the base requirements would be basic knowledge in telephone and internet service.

“Ang gusto po sana nating ma-hire dito ay ang ating mga nasa informal settlers at iyong mga na-displaced po sa trabaho,” Trayvilla said adding that they are also pushing to hire high school graduates since they already have the skills.

The official said the government targets to achieve the ideal ratio of one contact tracer per 800 population to effectively conduct contact tracing activities.

Interested individuals may apply before the DOLE’s Public Employment Service offices.

Labor groups lament Wage Board’s rejection of P100 emergency pay hike petition

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Labor groups have expressed dismay after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) rejected the petition for a P100 emergency wage hike.

The Wage Board released a resolution stating that it cannot take any action on the said petition because the matter is not within its jurisdiction.

“The said resolution cited a 2007 Supreme Court ruling stating that it is beyond the Board’s scope to grant an across-the-board wage increase,” the labor group, Defend Jobs Philippines, said.

Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson, Christian Lloyd Magsoy said the  group is skeptical of the Board’s statement.

“Skeptical kami sa statement nila na iyon dahil nga ang dami nang nangyari, ang dami nang naganap pero iyong mandate nila na every year dapat pag-aralan kung magtataas ba ng sahod ang mga manggagawa ay wala namang naganap na pagtaas ng sahod ng mga manggagawa (We are skeptical of their statement because a lot has already happened but their mandate for a yearly review on whether a wage increase is necessary, no wage hike has been implemented),” he said.

Magsoy also said a pay hike is needed especially with the increasing prices of commodities triggered by pandemic. He added that  increasing wages would contribute to economic recovery.

“Saan ba gagamitin ang P100 sa mga manggagawa kundi pambili rin ng mga pangangailangan nila na eventually makakatulong din sa mga maliliit na businesses natin (Where else will the workers use the P100 increase but to buy essential goods which will eventually help our small businesses),” he said.

For  Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), the P1,000 financial assistance provided by the government is not enough to sustain the needs of citizens affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“Ang P1,000 halaga ng ayuda na ibibigay gobyerno ay hindi din sapat sa ilang araw na walang trabaho at income, (The P1,000 aid provided by the government is not enough for those without jobs and income),” according to Alan Tanjusay of the ALU-TUCP.

Tanjusay also said the government should begin its preparation for additional aid and more Kadiwa & Diskwento caravans.

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he has not received the resolution of the RTWPB-NCR so there is still no final decision on the matter.

“Ayaw ko na ngang pangunahan sila kasi eventually kung anuman ang rekomendasyon nila ay dadaan sa akin for final approval (I do not want to get ahead because eventually, whatever their recommendation is, it will still go through me for final approval),” Bello said in a phone interview.  AAC (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

 

DOLE urged to include COVID-19 in gov’t compensation program for workers

Robie de Guzman   •   March 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Labor and Employment to classify COVID-19 as an occupational disease so that workers can avail of insurance and other benefits that are demandable under the Employees Compensation Act.

Hontiveros said that once COVID-19 is declared as a work-related disease, workers will be entitled to medical benefits, compensation for lost income, and even funeral services in the event that an employee succumbs to the disease.

“Workplaces and mass transportation are the new ‘hot spots’ of virus transmission, “ she said in a statement.

“Dapat nang aksyunan ng gobyerno ang panawagan na gawing ‘occupational disease’ ang COVID-19 to ensure that the workers who will contract the disease while at work or in transit will be compensated under the national policy for employment injury benefits,” she added.

The government earlier placed the National Capital Region (NCR) and the four nearby provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna – collectively called NCR Plus – under a general community quarantine bubble to curb the rising COVID-19 cases.

Under the policy which will last until April 4, only essential travel is allowed but public transportation and most workplaces will remain open. Curfew hours and health and safety protocols will also be strictly implemented.

Hontiveros, however, criticized the enforcement of quarantine protocols, which, according to her, is “sorely lacking” in terms of support for workers.

“Pinabalik ang manggagawa sa trabaho pero kulang na kulang ang pag-aalagang ibinibigay ng gobyerno. Huwag natin silang tratuhing parang imortal. Hindi curfew o checkpoints ang kailangang kundi garantisadong proteksyon sakaling mahagip o tamaan sila ng virus,” she said.

Hontiveros also stated that there may be no infection in the workplace but a worker may be infected in transit to and from his workplace. She believes that this should also be compensable.

“Hindi na dapat maging burden pa ng empleyado na patunayang nakuha niya ang virus sa kanyang trabaho. Dahil ang mismong pag-byahe ng mga manggagawa mula sa bahay papasok ng trabaho sakay ng mga pampublikong sasakyan ay work-related sacrifice na ginagawa na ng mga manggagawa,” she added.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 677,653 COVID-19 infections after health authorities reported 5,867 additional cases. The latest figure brought the country’s total active cases to 86,200 on Tuesday.

“Hindi pa huli ang lahat para ituwid ang pagkakamali. Huwag lang puro lip service ang ‘excellent’ performance. Kung magpapatuloy ito, itinutulak lang ang mga manggagawa sa bingit ng walang-katapusang pangamba, sakripisyo at pagkagutom,” Hontiveros said.

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