[Press Release] A year under lockdown: workers’ condition worse than before | EILER

“We have been under one of the longest lockdowns in the world, and yet the situation has worsened for workers. The militarized lockdowns only rendered them jobless and more vulnerable to the virus,” said Rochelle Porras, Executive Director of EILER.

EILER also pointed out that some of the government’s measures during lockdown such as halting transportation and the imposition of curfews aggravated the situation further.

“The halting of public transport, especially jeepneys, not only hurt jeepney drivers and operators economically, but also the public. Commuters inevitably flock together because of limited transportation amid the rush to avoid curfew,” added Porras.

Amid the abrupt opening of the economy, working conditions worsened. While being forced to go back to work, there is no assurance of free mass testing and vaccination for workers.

EILER pointed out that the government’s militarized lockdown was not meant to provide a healthcare-oriented response to the pandemic. Since the start of the lockdown, there were no serious efforts to provide free mass testing that could have helped in containing the spread of the virus.

The government also failed to provide aid for workers who lost their jobs during lockdown amid the trillions of loans from multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the China-run Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB).

EILER also raised concerns that human rights violations became more rampant. Abuses from authorities such as forcibly detaining ordinary citizens, including 72-year old jeepney driver Elmer Cordero, violence against alleged quarantine violators, and the spate of killings never helped in mitigating the spread of the virus but only sowed fear in the people.

“Clearly, with the lockdown, the government is more concerned in preventing people from voicing out their issues than in providing an appropriate and efficient response to the pandemic. Now, under worsened conditions, the government still wants to implement the same failed solutions. What it needs to do is heed the demands of the citizens and the workers who are experiencing the daily challenges of going through this health and economic crisis,” Porras said.

“We express our support on the demand of the labor groups for a P10,000 per month subsidy for workers affected by the pandemic as well as a P100 daily wage relief,” Porras ended. #

Institusyong Ekumenikal para sa Edukasyon at Pananaliksik sa Paggawa
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)

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15 March 2021
Reference: Ms. Rochelle Porras, EILER Executive Director, +63 927 493 5747

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