Labor group warns vs 'no jab, no pay', says workers want jabs but vax supplies lacking

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2021 05:18 PM | Updated as of Oct 18 2021 05:46 PM

Essential workers residing in Magalong, Pampanga receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Magalang Town Plaza through the Office of the Vice President’s Vaccine Express initiative on September 25, 2021. Charlie Villegas, OVP
Essential workers residing in Magalong, Pampanga receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Magalang Town Plaza through the Office of the Vice President’s Vaccine Express initiative on September 25, 2021. Charlie Villegas, OVP

MANILA - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Monday said it has received reports of employees who were denied their salaries because they remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said 12 food service workers complained that they were not paid under a ‘no vaccine no salary’ scheme. 

Tanjusay said the workers were not TUCP members and had no union support to speak of, and asked for the TUCP’s help to secure their pay. 

It is unclear just how many employers have adopted this illegal practice, Tanjusay said, but he noted the pandemic has created serious problems for many businesses and the 'no jab no pay’ scheme could spread. 

“Ang concern talaga namin ay maiwasan ang pagdami,” Tanjusay said.

(Our main concern is how to keep this practice from spreading.)

TUCP also said the push to allow greater mobility for vaccinated individuals by large business groups could be discriminatory as this would also penalize workers who want to get jabs but have no access to vaccines. 

“Kung marami ang bakuna, at magpatupad tayo ng policy na separation of unvaccinated and vaccinated, maaring pwedeng pagbigyan,” Tanjusay said. 

(If there are a lot of vaccines and we implement a policy of separating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated, maybe we can allow that.)

“Pero in this case, yung mga mangagawa gusto magpabakuna eh. Yun lang walang available na vaccines.” 

(But in this case, the workers want to get vaccinated, but there are no vaccines available.) 

The Philippines has been struggling to ramp up its vaccine rollout. The government is targeting to inoculate 77 million Filipinos this year, but has so far only achieved only 31.5 percent of that target after more than 7 months. 

Tanjusay said most of the workers who aren’t vaccinated yet come from the provinces, or work in small businesses. 

He added that TUCP itself has around 120,000 to 180,000 more members that remain unvaccinated due to supply or access issues. Around 85 to 90 percent of TUCP’s 1.2 million members have already been vaccinated, he said.

A palace adviser also agreed that employers should not use the vaccination status of their workers against COVID-19 as basis for getting their salaries. 

“While we believe that vaccination is the best protection that anyone can get against COVID-19, employers cannot use it as an excuse not to pay their employees for services rendered,” said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.

But he also said vaccination should be mandatory in high-risk, labor-intensive business establishments once there are enough vaccine supplies.

“Now that only fully vaccinated can enter establishments like salons and restaurants, it is only ideal that workers and employees should be required to be vaccinated,” said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion.

This should also apply to manufacturing plants, BPOs and POGOs, he said. 

Unemployment accelerated to 8.1 percent of the labor force, or 3.9 million Filipinos jobless in August as large parts of the country were again locked down due to the spread of the Delta variant. 

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