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Anti-poverty body slams Bello for ‘no jab, no work/pay’ policy

The National Anti-Poverty Commission–Formal Labor and Migrant Workers Sectoral Council (NAPC-FLMW) has rejected the latest protocols issued by Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on “no jab, no work” and “no jab, no pay.”

The Council said it was questioning the legality of the IATF resolution which allows only vaccinated workers to serve in restaurants, spas and other similar establishments in areas under Alert Level 3.

Earlier on, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III came under heav criticism for saying that quarantine guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 formed a legal basis for employers to dismiss or withhold the salary of workers who refuse to get vaccinated.

Backpedalling on his claim that employers could withhold payment to unvaccinated workers, Bello said Friday that companies may apply a “no work, no pay” policy if the employees do not report to work.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Partido Manggagawa slammed Bello III for justifying a “no jab, no work” and a “no jab, no pay” policy, saying it is the Department of Labor and Employment that is supposed to protect workers and save jobs.

“While refusing unvaccinated workers to work in facilities prohibited by alert levels is a practical health measure that employers may impose, terminating them from work is a cure worse than the disease.

We demand that Secretary Bello withdraw this statement,” said Rene Magtubo, PM chairman.

In a statement Tuesday, it said this contravened Republic Act 11525 that “vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”

The Council added the Labor Code of the Philippines sets the conditions in withholding the worker’s salary and refusal or failure to vaccinate was not among such conditions.

Also, the Code provides the circumstances for the employers to terminate their workers, it said.

"Absence in the provision that refusal or failure to vaccinate is one of the just or authorized causes to fire their employers. Thus, the latest IATF policy is outright illegal and has no basis at all," the Council said in its statement.

It added “Instead of denying the workers’ right to work and earn income, the government should instead devote its time and resources to address the lack of vaccine supply in order to attain herd immunity as soon as possible.”

The Council agrees with the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights that persons who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must not be penalized under the law.

“While refusing unvaccinated workers to work in facilities prohibited by alert levels is a practical health measure that employers may impose, terminating them from work is a cure worse than the disease.

We demand that Secretary Bello withdraw this statement,” said Rene Magtubo, PM chairman.

The TUCP criticized Bello for giving more weight to “a mere IATF resolution” than to the Labor Code, which prohibits the nonpayment of wages for work done.

TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay also pointed out that the Vaccination Act of 2021 specifically provides that a vaccination card was not a condition for employment.

"We remind Secretary Bello that the IATF resolution does not say that unvaccinated workers, under Alert Level 3, can be fired by employers or have their salaries withheld, for not being able to submit a complete vaccination card. In short, the position of Secretary Bello is absolutely without legal basis and will now promote a rampant disregard for worker's rights at a time when, the secretary is aware, these workers and their rights are most vulnerable to violation,” the TUCP said.

Topics: Silvestre Bello III , National Anti-Poverty Commission–Formal Labor and Migrant Workers Sectoral Council , Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases , Vaccination
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