DOLE urged to issue clear rules upholding workers’ rights vs ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy
Robie de Guzman • March 4, 2021 • 357
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue clear guidelines as he warned against discriminating workers who opt out of vaccination programs implemented by their employers.
In a statement, Villanueva said DOLE should issue rules on the matter to ensure that both workers and employers stand on a level playing field.
Instead of forcing workers to be inoculated and threatening them with termination from employment, the senator stressed that companies should make efforts to build confidence in taking COVID-19 vaccines.
Villanueva issued the remark in response to reports that some employers are implementing a “no vaccine, no work” policy.
“A worker who is not yet immune from virus shouldn’t lose his immunity from being fired arbitrarily,” he said.
“The biggest challenge at the moment for the labor-employer-government tripartite is not just to give more workers better vaccines but also to increase vaccine confidence,” he added.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said that implementing a “no vaccine, no work” policy is illegal and could be considered as a discrimination.
Bello also pointed out that at present, the country does not have enough supply of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate workers.
The policy came to light after some workers in the agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors allegedly complained about it.
According to Villanueva, employees should not be faulted for refusing to be inoculated if they have concerns over the vaccines that would be used on them.
“Sa pagbabakuna, the best pa rin po ang ‘Sana All.’ We cannot have a workforce divided between the ‘Jabbed’ and the ‘Jabbed Nots,’” he said.
He also urged the government to ramp up its campaign against public vaccine hesitancy in order to attain its goal of reviving the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The challenge for our government right now is to increase the level of confidence of our people on the vaccines,” Villanueva said.
“There has to be a concerted effort to bring up the degree of trust on vaccines because the restoration of jobs lost in the pandemic, and to a larger extent, our economic recovery, depend on the success of the vaccination program,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III responded to the request of Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Debold Sinas on the latter’s request to require national police clearances for labor-related transactions.
Bello argued that though his agency supports the PNP’s rollout of the National Police Clearance System (NPCS) and while the proposal is ‘good-intentioned,’ the Labor Chief said requiring DOLE’s clients to secure an NPC to avail of its services will do ‘more harm than good.’
“It is a form of a red tape to all and an additional financial burden to many,” Bello said.
The Labor Secretary noted that after his consultation with DOLE’s stakeholders including workers and employers group, 94% of them are not in favor of requiring an NPC in labor-related transactions.
Bello also argued that the proposal is not aligned with the policy of President Rodrigo Duterte on the Ease in Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 and there is no legal basis in requiring an NOC to DOLE clients.
“We are with the PNP in building a safer place for Filipino. We can achieve this without adding burden to the transacting public and the people we serve,” Bello concluded.
Sinas sent a letter to Bello recommending to the agency the use of national police clearance to have broader information as to the character of all its applicants.
The Labor Chief earlier reacted that such a policy will only add to the burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to its applicant.
MANILA, Philippines – The private sector is gearing up for the expected mass vaccination in June once the supply of COVID-19 vaccines specifically, AstraZeneca, arrives in the country.
According to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Secretary Joey Concepcion, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III already issued a memorandum encouraging employers and workers in the private sector to get vaccinated.
Concepcion believes that vaccination is the only solution to the country’s pandemic and economic problems.
“Every citizen has to do their civic duty to take the vaccine. That is the only way,” he said.
Together with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Concepcion said they have launched the ‘Let’s Go Bakuna’ campaign to address vaccine misinformation and boost confidence among employees.
He said vaccination should cover 100 percent of the workers’ sector to be able to achieve herd immunity.
“Kasi kung 70 percent lang ng mga empleyedo ang magpapabakuna, hindi natin ma-achieve ang herd immunity sa bansa natin. Iyong factory safety natin ay 70 percent lang, paano ang mangyayri sa 30 percent? Iyong 30 percent ay pwede pa ring ma-infect ang nasa 70 percent kasi ang efficacy ng mga bakuna hindi naman 100 percent,” he explained.
Concepcion said around 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in batches in June this year.
“That is going to help about close to 100 companies,” he said adding that the first and second batches of mass vaccination for workers are expected in June and July, respectively.
“Ang mga logistics providers ang magde-deliver sa vaccination centers na pinili ng private sector,” he added.
Companies may tap private sector implementers to facilitate the inoculation of their workers.
“We have about over 200 private companies that will do the vaccine implementation. Lahat iyan nakahanda na,” Concepcion assured.
“Vaccine confidence and vaccine implementation, iyon ang kailangan natin gawin. The faster we implement it, the faster we stop this infection,” he said.
MANILA, Philippines—In commemoration of Labor Day, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will open nationwide online job fairs beginning May 1.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III encouraged jobseekers to take advantage of the which is estimated to offer 38,000 local employment and 7,000 overseas job opportunities from various industries such as manufacturing, business process outsourcing, health services, retail, and construction.
Jobseekers can visit DOLE’s website to access the links where they can submit an application.
DOLE ASEC. Dominique “Nikki” Tutay said the department has three major events prepared in celebration of Labor Day.
“Mayroon po tayong gaganapin na job summit kung saan ang pamahalaan ilalatag niya ang tinatawag na 8 point employment recovery agenda under the national employment recovery strategy o NERS, she said.”
(We have a job summit where the government lays out an 8-point employment recovery agenda under NERS.)
Based on the latest Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Office (PSO), unemployment rate in the country has reached 8.8% or an equivalent of 4.2 million Filipinos with no jobs.
“Sa buong taon po ng 2021 patuloy po ang ating tinatawag na emergency employment program. Isinusulong parin natin ang wage subsidy program para sa ating mga businesses at sa ating mga maggagawa and pangatlo ang ating mga youth employability programs para makatulong sa mga kabataan,” Tutay said.
(Throughout 2021, we will continue our emergency employment program. We will also continue our wage subsidy program for our businesses and employees. We also have youth employability programs.) AAC (with reports from Marvin Calas)
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