We are thankful for the sacrifices and commitment of our frontline workers who continue to work amid the risk of being infected with the deadly novel coronavirus. Besides the risk of being exposed to the virus, they also experience long working hours, mental stress and over fatigue while performing their vital jobs.
They deserve to be called SUPERHEROES. But more than the label, what they truly deserve in this crucial time is the national government’s urgent support and protection.
We call on the government to immediately provide our frontline workers (health workers and those who work in groceries, banks, hospitals, food manufacturing, delivery, etc.) with the following:
Proper and quality personal protective equipment (PPE)
Immediately allot funds to purchase quality masks, gloves, goggles and other personal protective equipment for health workers. Workers in private establishments that continue to operate and are exempted from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) should also be provided by the companies with proper and quality PPE.
Hazard pay, compensation and curative services
Our frontline workers should all get hazard pay. The health workers who take care of patients should get compensation, rehabilitation and curative services if they get infected with COVID-19. Workers who keep vital establishments operational should be given additional pay for their services and braving the risk of being exposed and infected with the novel coronavirus.
Appropriate working hours with breaks
Our frontline workers’ health and safety should be ensured at all times. They should not be forced to work overtime. Any work rendered beyond the 8-hour labor standard should be appropriately compensated. They should also be given paid breaks within the working day.
Reports show a rapid increase in the number of health professionals and workers who are in quarantine. The government should immediately hire and train more health workers to be deployed to all hospitals and other medical centers.
Mental health and counselling services
The constant risk of infection and being away from their families during this difficult time can cause mental stress and anxiety among our frontline workers. Free and accessible mental health and counselling services should be provided to them.
Free transportation/housing services
No worker should suffer and walk going to his/her workplace. The government should ensure that free transportation and/or housing services are provided by companies, private and public hospitals to our frontline workers.
Mass COVID-19 testing now
The World Health Organization has stressed the urgency of launching mass COVID-19 testing to the public to “effectively suppress and control the virus’ spread”. Our health workers who are constantly exposed to hazards and have a higher risk of infection should be prioritized in the COVID-19 testing. Processing of COVID-19 tests for health workers should also be prioritized and fast-tracked.