COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) gathered private and public entities from across the region in a Bangsamoro Labor Day Summit held Friday, April 30, in this city to formulate measures that will help both employers and workers in combatting the impact of Covid-19 on employment and labor.
“This summit is really intended for our workers both local and overseas to come up with what are the best interventions the government and employers can offer so that we can mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the labor market,” MOLE Minister Romeo Sema said.
Impact on business entities and workers
To deal with the drastic change brought by the pandemic, some business owners said they have resorted to lay off some of their workers, adapt skeletal work system, close some parts or entirely their establishments during the lockdown, and decrease their employees’ wages.
“Yung iba, duty ngayon then bukas iba naman mag duty. So that all of them will have an income,” said Atty. Anwar Malang, a food establishment owner in the city.
“Kumbaga pa ang kasabihan natin at that time ‘buhay buhay nalang’ kung paano tayo makakasurvive na mabuhay,” he added.
Aside from the low profits the businesses have earned during the crisis, the pandemic also caused additional expenses for they had to purchase personal protective equipment (PPEs) and sanitizing agents, print Covid-19 informational materials, and some offered free transportation and meals for their on-duty employees.
Some workers were also given additional tasks such as monitoring personnel’s health condition, contact tracing, and monitoring strict observance of Covid-19 guidelines, among others.
Overseas workers were also not spared from the pandemic’s impact on labor. While some were left jobless due to repatriation and termination of contracts, others who opted to stay abroad were pushed to work for longer hours and do tasks more than they can carry for a day’s work.
Recommended actions to counter the crisis
Friday’s fruitful discussion resulted to some of the following recommended measures in countering the effects of the pandemic on labor and employment:
• The government must create a concrete preparedness and recovery plan for the pandemic; and in formulation of policies, it should always consult with various stakeholders;
• Include the construction industry in the tripartite council to represent labor and air grievances, especially to discuss issues on wages;
• The government should come up with better guidelines to resolve the concerns of business sectors about the no-movement Sunday, which disrupted business operations;
• Continuity of the Php5,000.00 financial support to employees of companies or business establishments that have adapted flexible work arrangements or temporary closure;
• The local government units should implement programs and services for OFWs and their families, establish operational OFW Help Desk for every barangay, and create temporary jobs for OFWs waiting to be deployed; and
• Offer long term employment programs and design and implement capability-building and entrepreneurship programs for OFW, among others.
“Our workers serve as human capital of our society. They are the one handling most of the operations of business establishments,” Minister Sema said.
“The symbiotic relationship between the employers and employees shall be sustainably cherished to attain industrial peace. The rights of both employers and employees shall be protected to achieve productivity,” he added.
The summit was one of the highlights of this year’s Bangsamoro Labor Day celebration, which carries the theme: “Manggagawa: Kabalikat sa Pagbabago at Kaunlaran ng Bangsamoro.” (Bangsamoro Information Office)