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Transport, BPO, workers’ groups want IATF vax-for-work resolution junked

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

TRANSPORT, business process outsourcing, and workers’ groups on Friday urged the government to junk resolutions requiring COVID-19 vaccinations to work and to have access to services, with plans to stage a rally at the labor department on Monday.

The online petition against Resolutions 148-B and 149 of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which ordered all establishments and employers to require all employees working in-person to have COVID-19 vaccinations beginning Dec. 1, already had more than 3,000 signatories as of Friday.

During the Pandesal Forum, the groups read the unity statement, saying in Filipino that “these rules made by the IATF are not fair or pro-people. These will deprive the employees and their families of livelihood, just because the employees are not vaccinated.”

Under the resolutions, unvaccinated workers working on-site will be required to regularly take Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19 “at their own expense.”

“It is also an added burden for low-wage workers to undergo the mandatory swab tests every two weeks for those who are unvaccinated,” the groups said, noting that numerous workers already have difficulty making ends meet.

The motion is unlawful, the group added, as it goes against the protections of the rights of workers and security of jobs guaranteed by the Constitution and the Labor Code. An advisory previously released by the labor department also disallowed forced vaccinations.

The IATF resolutions also allow establishments to deny access to unvaccinated people. They will also be given less priority in government programs.

“There should be no discrimination between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in enjoying these rights, and accepting services and other benefits,” they said.

Camille Joyce O. Cruzada, a physician from the Institute for Occupational Health & Safety Development, joined the protest, saying that the responsibility of the government to ensure the people’s health includes not only illnesses but the overall well-being.

Rather than punishments, she said, it is better to spread the right information on vaccines to truly achieve informed consent, adding that the government should compose a comprehensive plan while expanding its indemnity provisions.

Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand R. Gaite, who was also in the forum, on Tuesday filed House Resolution 2373 urging the repeal of the resolutions and instead prioritize the well-being of workers and economic frontliners. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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