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Labor: Segregation smacks of discrimination

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Associated Labor Unions

Labor groups on Saturday protested suggestions by some businessmen to separate vaccinated individuals from those who have not been vaccinated as a safeguard against the surge of Covid-19 infections and business dementia in the country.

According to Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, the overall economy will collapse faster due to increasing unemployment, slowdown in businesses and discrimination will expand or become normal when this measure is implemented, once the proposal is implemented.

Tanjusay also added that the proposed separation of vaccinated persons from unvaccinated ones is willful discrimination. It will widen and deepen existing discrimination in our society.

“If the measure to separate the vaccinated from the non-vaccinated is implemented, our compatriots who are poor and powerless to get the vaccine even if they want to get vaccinated will be more miserable and oppressed.” Tanjusay said.

He also stressed that separation of vaccinated from unvaccinated ones does not guarantee no virus transmission. He also noted that it will worsen the current situation of the country’s economy, saying that it will result in low economic activities and closure of many companies, resulting again to unemployment and workforce shortage because not all employees are unvaccinated.

“The separation would also hurt business already hurt by the pandemic crises and worsen the already dying economy because of a very few vaccinated customers and buyers of goods and services.

As a result, economic activities are low and many companies will close.” Tanjusay said.

He said that it will violate equal protection clause, being upheld under the Constitution.

“Such segregation will also violate equal protection clause upheld at all times by our Constitution. According to the principle of equal protection, everyone, including government, must treat all persons with fairness and equality.”

“Besides, the vaccine supply is still in short supply despite so many wanting to get vaccinated. So it is unfair or unfair to discriminate or isolate them from public vehicles, malls, restaurants, supermarkets, and so on.”

Tanjusay said it is still better to implement or even exceed the minimum health protocols, avoid soaking in crowded and enclosed spaces, and stay indoors as long as possible.

He also suggested that the government’s mass vaccination program should be intensified, more free mass testing and contact tracing should be taken more seriously.

Meanwhile, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog said in a text message that the proposal was reactionary and very discriminating, saying that the government wants to make it appear that they are one of the reasons for the consistent high number of Covid-19 infections, and use them as scapegoat on the misfortune of the government’s pandemic handling.

“The government wants to make it appear that they are one of the reasons for the consistently high number of Covid infections and to use them as the government’s scapegoat to the misfortune of pandemic administration and its associated corruption.” Labog said.

Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy in a phone interview said that he sees the proposal impractical and it was similar to the government’s proposal of prioritizing employees working on-site to be vaccinated, setting aside those who are under work-from-home arrangement under A4 category.

Center for United and Progressive Workers secretary general Josua Mata said that vaccines needed to complement with other measures, such as strict quarantine isolation, mandatory of wearing masks, and not face shields, free testing, and humane quarantine facilities.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairperson Leody de Guzman suggested to the government to create jobs that are related to Covid-19 response for workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

This comes after Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion pushes for separate ‘bubbles’ for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila, which will give vaccinated people more mobility and protecting unvaccinated people by limiting their movement only to workplaces.

Concepcion also proposed the separation of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in public transportation, like buses.

In a phone interview on Sunday, Concepcion said that employees were not forced to be vaccinated, and the private sector do not see any problem on his proposal. He clarified that this will apply to those who will enter business establishments inside malls.

“We’re not violating it. What they’re (labor groups) saying is something different. They (labor groups) are referring to the employees, we cannot force employees to be vaccinated, which is correct. We are not forcing anybody.”

“Our employees wanted to take it, one hundred percent. There is no coercion. Our sector, they don’t have a problem… The turn-out from the private sector is very high, one hundred percent… Our proposal is only for those who enter business establishments, such as restaurants that need to be vaccinated,” Concepcion said.

In a related development, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Sunday made it clear that he only supports mobility of those vaccinated only to restricted sectors during lockdowns, such as dine-in restaurants, meetings, incentives, conventions, indoor and outdoor exhibitions, and museums, backing proposals of the business community, and the Department of Tourism’s only 20 percent capacity for vaccinated customers and workers.

“This will be part of the new protocols to be implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force, once the proposal is approved,” he added.

with Alvin Murcia
@tribunephl_alvi

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