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Coalition seeks hazard pay for garbage collectors

EcoWaste says garbage collectors are frontliners in environmental sector

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - CDN Digital | April 09,2020 - 11:47 AM
garbage collectors hazard pay

City garbage collectors head to the city’s transfer station at the Inayawan landfill to dispose garbage that they collected from the barangays in this 2017 photo.
| CDN file

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Should garbage collectors receive hazard compensation for facing risks as they continue to perform their duty amid the coronavirus 2019 pandemic? 

ForEco Waste Coalition, the answer is yes.

EcoWaste Coalition expressed this position in a letter sent through email to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, and Budget Management Secretary Wendel Avisado. 

EcoWaste Coalition president Eileen Sison noted that garbage collectors as frontliners from the environmental sector deserve to get hazard pay, regardless of their employment status.

Sison pointed at the risks the garbage collectors face as they provide “essential waste management services, which can be considered hazardous, especially under the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.”

The coalition noted the lack of clear-cut regulations for the disposal of infectious waste from households, as well as the apparent increase in the disposal of infectious waste from healthcare facilities. 

This would justify the provision of hazard pay for these frontline environmental workers, the group added.  The calculation of the requested hazard pay should begin on March 17, 2020 until the ECQ is terminated, the group stressed.

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” emphasized Sison.

Humanitarian gesture

However, some waste management companies and local government units might be unwilling or financially constrained to offer hazard pay for garbage collectors. 

The coalition then urged the national government to take on this responsibility with urgency as a humanitarian gesture in these most trying times. 

“Such action will be in sync with Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, particularly on the ‘provision of safety nets to all affected sectors’ of COVID-19.  These can be factored in the social amelioration benefits, or the disaster funds of the LGUs,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Several labor organizations have supported the provision of hazard pay for garbage collectors that is being pushed by the EcoWaste Coalition through e-mails and text messages sent to the group. 

These groups include the Associated Labor Unions – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP-NCR), Consolidated Council of Health and Allied Profession (CCHAP-PSLINK), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Public Workers Congress (PUBLIK), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO). /bmjo

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