Mass testing via real-time RT-PCR and workplace health and safety measures can save workers’ lives

The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development called on employers to prioritize workers’ health and safety and denounced plans to use antibody rapid test kits to facilitate return to work after the enhanced community quarantine ends on April 30. IOHSAD claimed that testing workers for COVID-19 using antibody rapid test kits is dangerous and will not ensure the prevention of the virus’ spread in the workplace.

“Workers are not virus-proof. They are most vulnerable in the workplaces that do not comply with safety and health standards. Employers should conduct mass testing using real-time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) that deliver more reliable results than rapid test kits. We advise workers to demand being tested with real-time RT-PCR before agreeing to return to work,” said Nadia De Leon IOHSAD Executive Director.

IOHSAD expressed its concern with Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion’s announcement that business organizations will utilize antibody rapid test kits on workers and residents of communities near factories. Concepcion stressed that the test results will help employers identify who among workers are fit to return to work. He called the business sector’s testing program as Project ARK (Antibody Rapid test Kits) inspired by Noah’s Ark, a Bible story which involves a big boat that carried Noah, his family and different animals to save them from the big flood.

IOHSAD challenged Concepcion and other business leaders to truly follow Noah’s example of saving lives and not put the workers in danger by using unreliable rapid test kits. IOHSAD said that these rapid test kits measure the antibodies IgG and IgM which only increase in number after a person gets infected with COVID-19. These antibodies, however, will reach a significant number only after 14-22 days from the day of infection. Utilizing these antibody rapid test kits will give workers who tested “negative” a false sense of security that they are COVID-free and are healthy and safe to return to work.

“We call on employers to contribute in expanding the country’s capacity to conduct mass testing through real-time RT-PCR. Workers’ lives matter and their health and safety should be ensured at all times,” added De Leon.

IOHSAD also challenged employers to set-up preventive and control measures to ensure that workplaces are COVID-free and workers are safe before they return to work. Companies who fail to establish OSH preventive and control measures should not be allowed to return to “business as usual”. The workplace safety group called on the employers to carry out the following OSH measures:

  • Provide workers with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including face masks that they can use outside the workplace;
  • Provide transportation / shuttle services to all employees to ensure social distancing;
  • Ensure the presence of a physician or health personnel in the workplace to strictly monitor workers’ health and safety at work at all times;
  • Regular, safe and efficient disinfection in the workplace;
  • Provide accessible hand washing areas with soap and water, and remind workers about the importance of frequent hand washing;
  • Conduct regular information campaign on how to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace;
  • Draft and implement specific OSH guidelines in the workplace if a worker or someone suspected or confirmed of having COVID has been in the workplace;
  • Management should shoulder curative expenses of workers who have been infected with COVID and assist them in availing compensation from the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) 

“COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of so many frontline health workers. Non-compliance with OSH standards, such as failure to provide proper PPE to protect frontline health workers, has resulted in many painful deaths. This should send a clear message to employers to place workers’ health and safety first before profit,” ended De Leon.##

Despite government promise, we reiterate: Free mass testing now!

Swift and decisive medical response will help us win the war against COVID-19. 

The first month of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), however, has exposed the slow-paced and indecisive efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Duterte government to contain the spread of the disease. The DOH’s daily press conferences may keep the people informed about the number of COVID-19 cases, but mere statements cannot save lives. More than 20 doctors have died while fighting the deadly virus and many more health care professionals are braving the frontlines.

Changing categories for people in relation to the COVID-19 without sound basis, close-mindedness towards LGU innovations such as mass testing centers, slow and rigid distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to our frontline health workers hinder us from trying to “flatten the curve.” 

Studies have shown that in order to reduce the spread of the virus, early detection through pro-active mass testing and immediate isolation of COVID-19 patients should be implemented. The DOH’s stained track record in responding to this health crisis sends intense fears to the public.

It is for these reasons that one of the most essential lessons that we have learned during this pandemic is that collectively taking a stand and speaking out for our demands are necessary to achieve results. We cannot put our lives and future in the government’s bloody and incompetent hands. We should strengthen our calls for mass testing and protection for all frontline health workers now.

#MassTestingNowPh
#ProtectFrontliners

(photo from Bulatlat.com: Health workers from National Center for Mental Health)

#SaveOurHeroes : Ensure our frontline workers’ health and safety!

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.

Handa ba ang iyong lugar-paggawa sa COVID-19?

Noong mga nakaraang linggo, naglabas ang Department of Labor and Employment ng mga labor advisories hinggil sa COVID-19 (LA No. 04 Series of 2020 at LA No. 09 Series of 2020). Ayon sa Kilusang Mayo Uno, hindi sapat at kulang ang nilalaman ng mga advisories na ito para protektahan ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa laban sa COVID-19. Sa ganitong mga kalagayan, kailangang maging mas mapagbantay ang mga manggagawa at tiyaking umaaksyon nang maagap at wasto ang mga kumpanya.

Narito ang tatlong (3) tips para alamin kung handa nga ba ang ating mga lugar-paggawa sa pagharap sa COVID-19. Makatutulong din ang mga tips na ito para tiyaking napangangalagaan ang ating occupational safety and health rights sa gitna ng pagharap natin sa isyu at panganib ng COVID-19.

  1. Alamin kung mayroong ipinapatupad na infectious disease preparedness and response plan ang inyong kumpanya.

Kung mayroon, makipagtalakayan sa kanila tungkol dito. Kung wala naman, makipagtulungan sa kanila para agad na makabuo at makapagpatupad sa lugar-paggawa.

Mahalagang bahagi ng plano ang paglulunsad ng risk assessment sa bawat lugar-paggawa. Ilan sa mga impormasyong kailangang malaman ay ang mga sumusunod:

  • Saan, paano at anu-ano ang maaaring panggalingan ng corona virus exposure ng mga  manggagawa?
  • Mga maysakit na manggagawa o may mataas na risk of infection tulad ng mga health workers na nagkaroon ng unprotected exposure sa mga taong may o suspek na mayroong COVID-19;
  • Indibidwal na mga risk factors ng mga manggagawa tulad ng edad, may dinaranas na health condition at pagbubuntis)

2. I-monitor kung nagpapatupad ang management ng iba’t ibang workplace controls kaugnay ng COVID-19. Mag-demand sa management na magpatupad ng basic infection prevention measures sa mga lugar-paggawa.

Sa kaso ng COVID-19, hindi maaaring magamit ang elimination na siyang pinakaepektibong pamamaraan ng pagkontrol sa mga panganib sa lugar-paggawa. Kaya maaaring gamitin ang mga natitirang pamamaraan ng pagkontrol tulad ng engineering, administration, personal protective equipment o kumbinasyon ng mga ito para makatulong sa pangangalaga ng kalusugan at kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa sa lugar-paggawa.

ENGINEERING CONTROL

  • Ito ang uri ng kontrol na hindi lang nakaasa sa pagsasagawa ng pag-iingat ng mga manggagawa. Ilan sa maaaring gawin ay ang mga sumusunod:
  • Tiyaking maayos ang bentilasyon sa loob ng lugar-paggawa.
  • Paglalagay ng mga high-quality air filter sa lugar-paggawa at pagtitiyak na lagi itong malinis.
image from https://www.brooklynfan.com/how-to-prevent-issues-with-your-industrial-exhaust-fans/

ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL

  • Ito ang uri ng kontrol kung saan nagpapatupad ng mga patakaran at/o pagbabago sa pamamahala sa lugar-paggawa para mabawasan ang pagkalantad ng mga manggagawa sa panganib.
  • Maglunsad ng mga talakayan, information awareness campaign hinggil sa COVID-19 at kung paano ito maiiwasang kumalat sa mga lugar-paggawa.
  • Magkaroon ng sistema para sa maagap na pagsagot sa mga tanong at mungkahi tungkol sa pag-iwas at pagpigil sa paglaganap ng COVID-19 sa lugar-paggawa.
  • Magpatupad ng mga safe work practices tulad ng palagian at maiging paghuhugas ng kamay, pagtitiyak na laging may suplay ng tubig, sabon, alcohol sa lugar-paggawa. Panatilihing malinis ang lugar-paggawa. Regular na i-disinfect ang mga kagamitan sa loob ng lugar-paggawa tulad ng keyboard, telepono, makina o mga bagay na laging hinahawakan tulad ng handrails, door knobs at iba pa.
  • Tiyaking sumusunod ang kumpanya sa pagbibigay ng nararapat na health personnel at facilities na makatutugon sa pangangailangang medikal ng mga manggagawa. Tingnan ang probisyong nakasaad sa Chapter IV. Section 15 ng D.O. 198 o Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 11058 (OSH Law).

         PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

  • Tandaan na ang angkop at wastong paggamit ng PPE ay makatutulong sa pag-iwas sa exposure sa hazard ngunit hindi pa rin nito dapat pangibabawan ang iba pang pamamaaraan ng pagkontrol sa panganib na nabanggit sa itaas.
  • Ilang halimbawa ng PPE ay ang mga sumusunod: goggles, face masks, gloves at iba pa. Kailangan alamin ang nararapat at angkop na PPE para sa partikular na kondisyon ng bawat lugar-paggawa.
  • Ayon sa Section 29 ng RA 11058 o Prohibited Acts and its Corresponding Penalties, may multang P50,000 ang kompanyang mapatutunayang hindi nagbibigay ng libre at angkop na PPE sa mga manggagawa. Sisingilin ito araw-araw mula sa petsa kung kailan nagbigay ng notice of violation hanggang sa araw na mag-comply na ito at nagpamahagi ng libre at angkop na PPE sa mga manggagawa.
  • Kailangang regular na imonitor ang tamang pagsusuot o paggamit ng mga PPE at napapalitan kung kinakailangan.

3. Igiit sa kumpanya ang pagbibigay ng karagdagang leave with pay labas sa existing sick at vacation leaves. Ang dagdag na paid leaves ay makatutulong para sa ibayong pag-iingat at pag-iwas sa pagkalat ng COVID-19.

Maaaring magpaabot ng sulat o petisyon sa management hinggil dito at magsagawa ng pag-uusap para talakayin ang usaping ito. Pagkaisahin ang mga manggagawa para sama-samang igiit ang pagtatamasa ng nararapat na mga benepisyo at tulong sa gitna ng pagharap ng bansa sa COVID-19.

Bukas ang IOHSAD sa inyong mga tanong, mungkahi o pagbabahagi ng karanasan kung paano nag-iingat at nagpapatupad ng mga hakbang sa pag-iwas sa pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa inyong mga lugar-paggawa. Maaari ninyo kaming i-email sa iohsadph@gmail.com, ilagay sa subject ang Fighting COVID-19 in Workplaces. Maaari ninyo rin kaming padalhan ng mensahe sa aming Facebook accounts Iohsad Phils at Iohsad Philippines.

Lagi nating tandaan na anumang usaping pangkalusugan at pang-kaligtasan sa lugar-paggawa ay kayang-kayang malagpasan sa pamamagitan ng mulat, sama-sama at organisadong pagkilos ng mga manggagawa.

On COVID-19, Face Masks and OSH Rights

Isa sa napakaraming isyung bumulaga sa pagpasok ng 2020 ang paparaming bilang ng mga tinatamaan ng corona virus disease (COVID-19) sa iba’t-ibang bansa. Umabot na sa 3,000 ang bilang ng mga namatay dahil dito. Sa Pilipinas, may mga kaso na ring naitala ng mga nag-positibo sa COVID-19.

Sa gitna ng panganib na dala nito, pinagkaguluhan ng marami ang pagbili ng face mask sa paniniwalang makatutulong ito sa pag-iwas ng pagkalat ng virus.

“Mask safe nga ba?”

Image from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/02/coronavirus-do-face-masks-work-and-how-to-stop-it-from-spreading.html STR/AFP via Getty Images

Ayon sa mga doktor, ang paghuhugas ng kamay at pagpapanatiling malinis sa katawan ang pinakamabisa pa ring paraan para makaiwas sa COVID-19. Hindi kinakailangang magsuot ng face mask sa lahat ng pagkakataon. Maaaring gumamit nito kapag pupunta sa masisikip at matataong lugar tulad ng palengke o kung magbibiyahe sa tren, jeep o eroplano. Inililinaw pa rin ng mga infectious disease specialist na hindi kinakailangang magsuot ng face masks ang walang senyales ng ubo, sipon at trangkaso.

Face mask sa mga pabrika? It’s a MUST!

Kung hindi katiyakan ang pagsusuot ng face mask para maging ligtas sa COVID-19, iba naman ang kaso sa loob ng mga pabrika.

Walang dudang kinakailangan at dapat magsuot ng angkop na face mask ang mga manggagawang lantad sa mga kemikal, alikabok, usok, amoy at iba pang maaaring makaapekto sa kanilang kalusugan. Tulad ng iba pang mga personal protective equipment (PPE) libre dapat itong ipinamamahagi ng kompanya sa mga manggagawa.

Ayon sa Section 8 ng Republic Act 11058 o Occupational Safety and Health Law

Workers Right to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Every employer, contractor, subcontractor, if any, shall provide his workers, free of charge, protective equipment for their eyes, face, hands and feet, and lifeline, safety belt or harness, gas or dust respirators or masks, and protective shields whenever necessary by reason of the hazardous work process or environment, chemical, radiological, mechanical and other irritants or hazards capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. The cost of PPE shall be part of the safety and health program which is a separate pay item pursuant to Section 20 of this Act.

All PPE shall be of the appropriate type as tested and approved by the DOLE based on its standards. The usage of PPE in all establishments, projects, sites and all other places where work is being undertaken shall be based on the evaluation and recommendation of the safety officer.

Bagama’t malinaw itong nakasaad sa batas, ang pagbibigay ng angkop at libreng PPE ang isa sa mga OSH standards na pinakamadalas na nilalabag ng mga kompanya.

Patunay ang kaso ng mga manggagawa ng Pepmaco, isang manufacturing company sa Laguna na gumagawa ng surfactant at mga sabon gaya ng Calla at Champion bar at powder.

Ayon kina Keysielyn, Tin at Venn, mga manggagawa mula sa Pepmaco, hindi namimigay ng face mask ang management ng Pepmaco. “Hindi po kami pinapagamit ng face mask sa aming pagawaan,” salaysay ni Tin. “Sa Building 6 kung saan naroon ang surfactant area, doon po ay exposed kami sa mga kemikal  tulad ng Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Coco Fatty Alcohol Sulfate (CFAS), colored needles at iba pa. Sa kabila ng mga kemikal na ito, hindi kami binibigyan ng face mask at iba pang PPE,” sabi ni Venn.

Kagyat ang mga epekto sa kalusugan tulad ng hirap sa paghinga at paninikip ng dibdib ang hindi pagbibigay ng management ng angkop na PPE sa loob ng lugar-paggawa.

Matatapang na kemikal ang ginagamit namin sa paggawa ng sabon gaya ng CFAS, surfactant, Triclocarbon, aluminum at soda ash. Ito ay direkta naming nalalanghap dahil nga sa hindi kami binibigyan ng face mask. Kaya naman nasusunog ang balat namin at pati na rin sa labas na parte ng ilong at bibig. Hindi kami nawawalan ng ubo at sipon. Ang ilan pa sa aming mga kasama ay nagkaroon ng spot sa baga. Marami rin ang mga buntis na katrabaho namin ang nakukunan. Hindi rin sila pinapagamit ng face mask kaya naman nalalanghap din nila ang mga kemikal na sobrang tapang at nagkakaroon ito ng masamang epekto sa sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan,” paglalahad ni Tin.

Ayon sa Section 29 ng RA 11058 o Prohibited Acts and its Corresponding Penalties, may multang P50,000 ang kompanyang mapatutunayang hindi nagbibigay ng PPE sa mga manggagawa. Sisingilin ito araw-araw mula sa petsa kung kailan nagbigay ng notice of violation hanggang sa araw na mag-comply na ito at nagpamahagi ng libre at angkop na PPE sa mga manggagawa.

Ano ang mask mahalagang hazard control? TANGGALIN ANG PANGANIB!

Dapat tandaan ng mga manggagawa na ang pagtanggal sa panganib ang pinakaepektibo pa ring paraan ng pagkontrol sa panganib sa lugar-paggawa. Kaya’t napakahalagang tukuyin at malalim na alamin ang iba’t ibang panganib sa lugar-paggawa. Anumang panganib (kemikal, sirang makina, at iba pa) na maaaring magdulot ng kapahamakan (aksidente at/o pagkakasakit) sa mga manggagawa kailangang tanggalin sa proseso ng produksyon. (Tingnan ang Hierarchy of Controls sa ibaba.)  

Bagama’t nasa huli at itinuturing na least effective, mahalaga pa ring tiyaking nakatatanggap at nakagagamit ang bawat manggagawa ng angkop at libreng PPE sa lugar-paggawa.

Sa huli, kinakailangan nating harapin nang mulat, sama-sama at organisado ang pagpuksa sa COVID-19 at pagtataguyod sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa sa kaligtasan at kalusugan sa trabaho.

How workers can fight the novel coronavirus at the workplace

Employers and employees should work together to ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy. Appropriate, clear and well-implemented safety and health plans should be present in all workplaces to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 

We encourage all workers especially members of health and safety committees and/or safety officers to lead in promoting awareness and monitoring developments about the novel coronavirus. Here are some suggestions on how to keep workers safe and healthy at all times: 

  1. Educate and update workers on recent information about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Fake news and articles about the 2019-nCoV are being spread in various social media platforms. It is important to share reliable facts and data to ensure that all workers are well-informed and updated. We encourage workers’ unions to share information materials in different forms such as leaflets, posters, OSH updates on workers’ bulletin boards or social media posts. 

Here are several links that you can access and get reliable and recent data about the 2019 nCoV. 

World Health Organization on Novel Coronavirus ( 2019-nCoV)

Department of Health Updates on Novel Coronavirus

You can also share this short but informative video clip about the 2019 nCoV to your Facebook timeline. 

  • 2. Discuss Labor Advisory No. 04 Series of 2020, Guidelines on 2019 Novel Coronavirus          (2019-nCoV) Prevention and Control at the Workplace with the management. 

Last January 31, the Labor Department has issued a labor advisory to guide employers and employees in the private sector on the control and prevention of the 2019-nCoV in workplaces. We urge the workers through the health and safety committees to hold meetings with their employers to discuss the guidelines. It is also best to conduct risk assessment and establish a particular health and safety advisory for your workplace to reflect your specific conditions, risks and plans. 

Here’s a link to DOLE’s Labor Advisory No. 04 . Download it now.

If there’s still no health and safety committee established in your workplace, please refer to Chapter IV, Section 13 of D.O. 198 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10058. IOHSAD also encourages workers’ unions to form their own health and safety committees, invite their members to join and work together to implement OSH programs. 

  • 3. Design and implement an infection control plan in your workplace. 

List down measures that should be practiced in your workplace to ensure workers’ health and safety at all times. Make sure that employers fulfill and provide all the necessary resources for the proper implementation of the infection control plan. 

Here are several measures that you can include in your plan: 

  • Ensure that clean hand washing facilities and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are accessible to all workers to help workers maintain good hygiene practices at all times.
  • Check and ensure that all ventilation systems in the workplace are working properly. 
  • Make sure that objects that are touched frequently such as workstations, doorknobs, railings are always kept clean. 
  • Ensure that medical facilities and personnel are present in your workplace. Refer to Chapter IV, Section 15 of D.O. 198 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 11058 to know the required number of health personnel, medical supplies, equipment and facilities for all covered workplaces. 
  • If an imminent danger is present in the workplace (risk of infection in health care facilities), please refer to Labor Advisory No. 04 on the steps that should be implemented to “avoid, correct or remove such imminent danger”. 

Take note of the provision “Workers’ Right to Refuse Unsafe Work”(Chapter 3, Section 6) that is included in the Occupational Safety and Health Law or RA 11058.  When an imminent danger is present in your workplace, report it immediately to the safety officer and demand that he/she can determine and implement a work stoppage/suspension in cases of imminent danger. He/She should immediately notify the Labor Department about the presence of imminent danger in the workplace. Once this is complied, workers can refuse to work until the workplace is declared safe. 

It is important to note that in other countries such as Canada, legislation provides workers the right to refuse unsafe work “as long as they have reasonable cause to believe that it presents a danger”.

It is unfortunate that in our case, workers are tied to the safety officers’ determination of an imminent danger and declaration of work stoppage. IOHSAD encourages workers to report their experiences and challenges in exercising their right to refuse unsafe work. We will compile these reports and work on how this provision in the OSH Law can better serve the workers’ right to safe and healthy workplaces.

The novel coronavirus is an urgent public health issue that needs swift and decisive actions most especially from the government. IOHSAD supports the health workers’ urgent demands for protective gears and transparency in nCoV cases. Our doctors, nurses and health workers should be given protection and support in their efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Photo taken by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News ; photo grabbed from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/06/20/nurses-demand-protective-gear-transparency-in-coronavirus-fight

For comments and updates on the steps being implemented in your workplace for the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus, you can write a comment below, send us a message at iohsadph@gmail.com or at our Facebook page IOHSAD Philippines. Keep safe!

Youth for OSH Rights

IOHSAD is inspired and excited to be working with Political Science students of UP Manila in our research and advocacy projects for the first half of 2020. We are grateful to UP Professor JM Lanuza for trusting us to be part of their National Service Training Program (NSTP) class this semester. We are looking forward to exploring more creative ways on how to involve and engage the youth in promoting occupational safety and health rights. We will be posting updates on the progress of our projects and preparations for our major events this year – Workers Memorial Day (April 28) and Kentex fire tragedy 5th anniversary (May 13).

Listen to one of the groups read the poem “Sweatshop” written by Katrina Yamzon for the more than 72 workers who died in the Kentex fire tragedy five years ago. The students read this poem last February 5 as part of the worldwide celebration of World Read Aloud Day.

Sweatshop

Bakas pa ang pawis sa sunog ng mga katawan.
Pawis ng pagkaalipin ninyong aliping sahuran.
Mababanaag sa mata niyo’y luha ng pagtangis
At pag-asang aahon sa lusak ng malaong tiniis.

Umaalingawngaw pa ang panaghoy ng himutok
Tila walang nakarinig sa sigawan ninyong natupok.
Dinig ko’y bulalas ng paghahanap at panalangin.
Nakakabingi ang katahimikan nilang nang-alipin.

Umaalingasaw pang sangsang ng usok ng kapabayaan.
Nakasusulasok ang samyo sa hangin ng kasakiman.
Nilalasap nilang naiwa’y pait ng pangungulila.
Ramdam pa ri’y hapdi’t pighati ng pagdurusa.

Nasaksihan namin ang nais ninyo naming makita
Narinig ang boses ninyong hindi nila ininda.
Naamoy tuyong pawis ng pagsasamantala
Natikma’y pagkakait ng lipunan sa inyo ng hustisya.

Magpapatuloy kami,
Hahanapin ang katarungang inyong ninanais.
Ipaparinig pang higit ang inyong pagtangis.
Ipapaamoy kabulukan ng lipunang di nagmamalasakit.
Ipapatikim sa mapagsamantala ang naipon nating galit.

#JusticeforKentexWorkers
#JusticeforKentexWorkers2020
#WorldReadAloudDay

The Adventures of TIN TIN : Manggagawa, Unyonista, Aktibista

Siya si Christine o Tin Tin sa kanyang mga kasamahan at kaibigan. Balingkinitan, simple, madalas t-shirt, maong at baseball cap ang pormahan. Hindi mo aakalaing ang 23 taong gulang na kababaihang manggagawang ito ay isa sa mga pinakamasigasig at maaasahang lider ng Pepmaco Workers Union (PWU-NAFLU-KMU). Tulad sa unyon, maaasahan ding anak si Tin Tin bilang bread winner ng kanyang pamilya. Panganay siya sa limang magkakapatid.

BUHAY MANGGAGAWA

Araw-araw siyang gumigising nang maaga para maghanda sa pagpasok sa trabaho. Naghahanda para sa isa na namang mahabang araw. Labingdalawang oras kasi siyang magtatrabaho sa pabrika. Pagdating naman sa bahay, agad maglalaba ng uniporme, kakain at matutulog na. Wala na siyang oras para sa iba pang gawain dahil sa sobrang pagod at puyat. Buong linggo siyang nagtatrabaho. Wala rin kasing ibinibigay na “rest day” sa kanila ang management ng Pepmaco.

Ipinapadala ni Christine ang sahod niya sa kanyang pamilya sa probinsya para pantustos sa pag-aaral ng kanyang mga kapatid. Nagtitira lang siya ng kaunting pera para sa kanyang pagkain, pambayad sa bahay, tubig at kuryente. Madalas kulang ang kanyang sahod kung kaya’t napipilitan siyang isanla ang kanyang ATM at tinutubos na lang sa susunod na sahod. Kapag kinapos uli (na madalas din) ay isinasanla niya ito ulit. 

BUHAY UNYONISTA, AKTIBISTA

Matapang na hinarap ni Tin Tin kasama ng mga manggagawa ng Pepmaco ang marahas na dispersal sa kanilang piketlayn noong Hunyo 28, 2019.

IOHSAD (I): Sa karanasan mo sa welga, ano ang hinding-hindi mo malilimutan?

Christine : Hinding-hindi ko malilimutan ang nangyari noong Hunyo 28, 2019. Walang awa kaming pinagbobomba ng tubig, pinagbabato ng bote at bato at pinagpapalo ng kanilang mga batuta. Dalawa sa aming mga kasama ay putok ang ulo at putok ang bibig. Marami rin sa amin ang sugatan. Karamihan ay mula sa mga kababaihan. Nag-iiyakan na kami at halos magmakaawa na sa mga goons na huwag kaming saktan. Hindi namin inakalang kaya palang gawin ito sa amin ng kapitalista kahit na regular na hanapbuhay lang naman ang aming panawagan.

I : Sa iyong tingin, mayroon bang naging epekto sa kalusugan mo ang matagal na exposure mo sa kemikal sa loob ng pabrika?

Christine : Madalas akong matalsikan sa mata ng mga kemikal na aming ginagamit at direktang hinahawakan ng aming kamay. Hindi ako nawawalan ng ubo at sipon. Nasusunog din ang aming mga balat sa mga chemical na ginagamit sa paggawa ng surfactant. Sa kasalukuyan, ay nanlalabo pa rin ang aking mga mata na maaaring dahil sa mga kemikal na tumatalsik.

I: Bakit ka sumama sa welga?

Christine : Gusto naming mabago ang sistema ng Pepmaco. Ito ay hindi lang namin ginagawa para sa aming mga pamilya kundi para na rin sa lahat ng mga kapwa naming manggagawang kontraktuwal. Gusto rin naming hindi na danasin ng mga bagong manggagawang papasok sa Pepmaco ang aming masahol na pinagdaanan dito.

I : Ano ang motibasyon mo para ipagpatuloy ang inyong laban?

Christine: Ipinapagpatuloy namin ang aming welga para sa aming pamilya at para rin sa lahat ng mga manggagawang kontraktwal sa iba pang pagawaan. Marami na rin kaming nasakripisyo sa laban na ito kaya hindi kami papayag na matalo na lang at hindi ibigay ng management ang mga panawagan namin para sa regular na hanapbuhay, nakabubuhay na sahod at ligtas na pagawaan. Tanging kapitalista rin namin na si Simeon Tiu ang nag-udyok sa amin para magwelga.

Interbyu at teksto ni Fress Sagnip ng IOHSAD. Kontribusyon para sa Usapang OSH, IOHSAD Newsletter

Para sa mga updates sa laban ng mga manggagawa ng Pepmaco, bisitahin ang kanilang Facebook page Pepmaco Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU.

Justice for Bhopal! Solidarity with the Bhopal people!

IOHSAD Philippines and Pepmaco workers join the people of Bhopal in their fight for justice. We stand with the victims and survivors of the Bhopal tragedy in their fight for justice and corporate accountabilitiy.

The Bhopal chemical gas leak is considered as the world’s worst industrial disaster. Thousands of people were killed on that tragic night in Bhopal 35 years ago. A lot more people are suffering from fatal illnesses and lifelong disabilities until now.

Pepmaco workers identify with the struggle of the Bhopal people. They are also victims of their company’s gross violations of OSH standards, labor and human rights. They have been exposed to unsafe working conditions and are now suffering from various respiratory, vision, skin and other health problems.

Pepmaco workers take inspiration from the Bhopal people’s long and ongoing struggle for justice and corporate accountability. The workers are resolved to fight until they get the justice they truly deserve.

Justice for Bhopal!
No More Bhopal! 
Safe Workplaces Now!

Visit the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal’s webiste to know more about the campaign. https://www.bhopal.net

35 years – Still no Justice Justice for Bhopal Victims

The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), India Ban Asbestos Network (iBAN) and Occupational and Environmental Health Netowrk India (OEHNI) express its deep sadness and outrage at continuing denial of justice to the victims of gas tragedy which took place in Bhopal on 3 December 1984. For 35 years, the victims and their family members have been denied just compensation and rehabilitation.

ANROEV is a network of victims and grass root organisations who work on safe working conditions and environmental impacts due to factories and mines in Asia. ANROEV combines the OSH rights struggle in different Asian countries into a one united struggle and demands better health and safety for the workers across the region.

iBAN is a coalition of labour organizations, public health groups, environmental groups, academicians, scientific experts, concerned citizens, victims and their families. The aim of the network is community wellbeing and ensuring that communities, workers and residents remain safe from the exposure to Asbestos fibre and diseases caused by this dreaded fibre.

Occupational and Environmental Health Netowrk India (OEHNI) is National network of grassroots organizations working on OHS rights.

The gas tragedy which took place just after midnight on that fateful night at the factory owned by Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemicals) left more than 8000 people dead in the first week. The current death toll is estimated to be more than 20,000. Countless others are still battling chronic illnesses brought about by the gas tragedy, ranging from skin diseases, vision impairment, cancers. Genetic mutations have taken place, and many children with disabilities are being born.

The Indian Government let off the perpetrators of this heinous crimes. Till date, no government agency has tried to present the correct figures for the number of people who have died or have been injured due to the tragedy. Without this accurate figure, the amount of compensation which should be rightfully claimed from the company remains inadequate. Many victims and family members are still seeking for compensation, rehabilitation and justice after 35 years have passed. The Indian government refuses to acknowledge them as a victim.

None of the senior leadership of Dow Chemicals (previously Union Carbide) has been tried in court or otherwise held accountable for these murders even though internal memos show that they knew beforehand of the inadequate safety systems at the factory. The Indian government has failed to put enough pressure on the United States Justice Department to even deliver the summons to Dow Chemicals to force them to appear in the Indian court and be held accountable for their actions.

The factory site still contains a large amount of waste from the time of operation which continue to contaminate the ground water. No concrete plans have been made for disposing this waste, neither by the government nor the company.

It is clear that the system has failed to hold multinational corporations accountable for their crimes and violations of human rights, and that our governments are not interested in change and instead the people of Bhopal have been left to fight for clean-up of the toxic waste, adequate healthcare, clean water, fair compensation, and corporate accountability.

Bhopal remains the worst industrial disaster ever recorded. The commitment, strength and endurance of the Bhopalies provide inspiration to all of us to continue our struggles for safe workplaces and clean environments in Asia and throughout the world. All of us stands along with the people of Bhopal for as long as necessary to fight for justice.

लड़गे – जीतगे कोईऔरपीिड़तनह

(We will fight, we will win!)

कोईऔरपीिड़तनह

(No More Victims)