WITH closed roads and empty offices, how could a home-quarantined worker avail himself of the P5,000 token assistance announced by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) early this week?
Nobody knows and nobody can, according to the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM).
Not only is the aid very small. It is also practically unreachable. Given the lockdown measures enforced by security forces on the roads and the paralysis in the non-frontline government offices, the chance of getting this relief while on quarantine is almost impossible within that period.
The Dole guidelines provide for a two-week processing time in approving employers’ request for assistance based on flexi-work arrangements they will undergo as required by Dole.
That is only possible if employers would really apply for the program out of concern for their workers. What would happen if employers and their staffs are also locked out? And assuming their applications are approved, how can workers avail themselves of that aid if they are not under ATM payroll or with most of banks also in skeletal operations?
One option I am proposing is for Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III together with all other labor officials to join local officials in distributing this aid package as Dole’s other program of providing temporary employment for the informal sector affected by the lockdown is likewise implemented at the barangay level.
But the most logical way and which impact is more universal for those in the formal sector is for Dole to order all employers to provide paid quarantine leaves to all their workers. In this way the state fund intended for them can be utilized to assist informal workers such as displaced drivers, vendors, community help workers, among others. (Dennis Derige, Partido Manggagawa Cebu spokesman)