With the threat of unemployment looming large as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Senator Joel Villanueva has called on the Department of Labor and Employment to expedite the implementation of programs that would help affected workers weather the tough times as they transition to new jobs.
Villanueva noted that the labor department must already begin their efforts to help the labor market brace itself for shocks that could send unemployment figures in an upward trend as the infectious disease continues to make difficult business operations which could result to layoffs.
He said the livelihood of our workers should continue even if some of them would lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19 affecting the operations of their employers.
“We call on DOLE to immediately implement programs to ensure displaced workers would still be able to earn a living for their families instead of totally being unemployed,” said Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.
Meanwhile, thousands of daily minimum wage workers are restive over the lack of company guidelines and deficient policy in the event government imposes mandatory workplace lockdown, the labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said.
The TUCP also said workers under the “no work-no pay” policy would be greatly affected once a regional lockdown was imposed by the government to prevent contamination due to the growing 2019
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.
In the Senate, Senator Francis Pangilinan said daily wage earners would be hurt with a lockdown, wherein nobody could enter or exit lockdown areas, unless there were proven family or work reasons.
“And if hungry, they may turn to looting or theft,” said the president of the Liberal Party.
“We need to provide relief goods and cash support. It is a messy situation and we need to act fast,” Pangilinan said.
The senator stressed that if we act together, “we can reduce the spread by as much as eight to ten times because of social distancing, because of massive testing, because of self-quarantine, because of interventions both of the individual and not only the private sector [but also the] government.”
Villanueva, who defended the department’s budget at last year’s deliberations in the Upper Chamber, explained that among the programs which can help displaced workers was DoLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
A form of emergency employment assistance, TUPAD is a grass-roots approach to emergency employment as it is implemented in communities for displaced workers, seasonal workers, and even the underemployed. Beneficiaries work for a minimum 10 days but not exceeding 30 days, depending on the nature of the work to be performed, according to the DOLE website.
TUPAD beneficiaries work on social community projects such as repair, maintenance, rehabilitation or improvement of common public and service facilities, as well as helping implement agro-forestry projects like tree-planting and growing initiatives, among others.