Villanueva urges hazard pay for street sweepers, garbage collectors

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Senator Joel Villanueva said essential personnel such as street sweepers and garbage collectors should also be entitled to hazard pay given the risks they face especially during this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Villanueva said it is high-time the government considers the plight of these sanitation workers as they are one of the “most vulnerable with low salaries and very little, if at all, protection afforded to them, and yet they continued to work to keep us safe at our homes.”

The Senate committee on labor and employment chair said sanitation workers are just one of the most vulnerable and affected sectors who have to deal with low pay and other labor issues.

“We will look into this issue as we are set to hear these measures that intend to grant hazard pay for workers in critical industries. We will tackle all the finer points of the bill in the committee hearing so we can strike a balance among stakeholders,” Villanueva said, referring to Senate Bill No. 1453.

The bill primarily seeks  to provide hazard pay for workers providing essential services in critical industries in the private sector.

Villanueva likewise filed a counterpart bill, SBN 1455, to cover government workers, which has been referred to the Senate civil service committee.

SBN 1453, or the proposed Hazard Pay for Workers in Critical Industries Act, would grant covered workers a hazard pay equivalent to 25 percent of their monthly basic salary for the duration of the state of calamity or emergency, or a public health emergency as defined by law.

The bill includes workers in the medical and allied health services, banks, morgues, groceries and public markets, pharmacies, restaurants, logistics, food and medical manufacturing, telecommunications, mass media, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, gasoline stations, oil companies, water distribution, sanitation, capital markets, hotels, public transport, civil aviation, and other establishments the government may deem necessary to operate at the time of the emergency.

Under the measure, workers of third-party service contractors such as security guards and janitors, who are deployed to any of the foregoing establishments shall also be entitled to hazard pay for the duration of the calamity, emergency or public health emergency.

Meanwhile, SBN 1455 or the Hazard Pay for Government Employees Act, would also grant government workers a hazard pay of at least 25 percent when they are stationed or assigned as frontline personnel during a state of calamity or emergency, or in times of a public health emergency.

The senator said it is imperative that the government allocates more funds to support ordinary workers during the health crisis.

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