Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Wednesday asked the three rail services to hire the employees of Light Rail Transit Line 1 who are about to be laid off after a drop in ridership due to the pandemic.
In a statement, Tugade instructed the Philippine National Railways, the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3)—both government-run institutions—and the Light Rail Transit Authority, the operator and maintenance provider of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2), to immediately absorb qualified personnel.
“We must look into the possibility of absorbing them as quickly as we can. Huwag natin silang pabayaan (Let's not leave them behind). It’s the least and most humane thing we can do for them at this time,” Tugade said.
To ensure the health of its workers and prevent transmission of Covid-19, he asked the Light Rail Manila Corporation — the operator and maintenance provider of the LRT-1—to subject all their personnel to testing for COVID-19.
“They should swab all theirpeople. Cost is not the primary issue here. We can discuss who absorbs the cost at some later time. What matters most is the health and safety of commuters and their employees,” Tugade said.
He also tasked PNR General Manager Junn Magno and DOTr Assistant Secretary Fidel Cruz to review LRMC's Covid-19 health and safety protocols.
Earlier, the LRMC announced that it would lay off over a hundred, or 20 percent of its workforce due to a 90 percent drop in ridership of the LRT-1 due to the coronavirus.
As this developed, the Department of Labor and Employent assured LRT1 workers who are about to lose their jobs that the LMRC management will comply with the DOLE guidelines on retrenchment.
These include getting “rightful benefits under the law and even above what is in the existing collective bargaining agreement.”
Earlier, the LMRC said the reduction of its workforce was caused by a 90-percent drop in ridership of the LRT-1 as well as suspension of other projects.
LRMC also partnered with Xcelarator Talent Solutions to help its affected workers on livelihood and investment management.
“Webinars and online consultations on managing mental health will also be offered,” the LRMC statement read.
“This will aim to right-size the organization to better suit the current and future business conditions, as well as maintain stability while navigating through the uncertainty of this global crisis,” it added.
The decision will take effect on September 15.
Before it was approved, it said the decision went through “multiple levels of approvals” involving the management of the LRMC and its employee union.
In a message on Wednesday, Jacqueline Gorospe, LRMC Communications and Customer Relations head said the number of retrenched workers, over 100, was equal to 20 percent of the LRT-1’s workforce.