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Workers’ rights

Returning Workers

THE Filipino people, including ordinary citizens across the country, see salvation from the deadly COVID-19 rests on the success of the government’s vaccination program.

And the public ought to observe health protocols, like wearing of masks and face shields, frequent hand-washing and social distancing, to suppress the further spread of the dreaded virus.

However, employers should not fire workers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III saying that a worker’s refusal is not a ground for dismissal.

There is no legal basis for an employer to require workers to be vaccinated before they enter the workplace,” according to Bello, a former secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

On the other hand, Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, warned against discriminating workers who opt out from vaccination programs implemented by their employers.

Villanueva said workers should not be faulted for refusing to be vaccinated if they have concerns on the vaccine that would be used on them.

Sa pagbabakuna, the best pa rin po ang ‘sana all.’ We cannot have a workforce divided between the ‘jabbed’ and the ‘jabbed nots,‘ said the senator from Bocaue, Bulacan.

A recent survey found that 47 percent of Filipinos would opt to refuse vaccination largely due to safety issues.

Villanueva said: “The challenge for our government right now is to increase the level of confidence of our people on vaccines. There has to be a concerted effort to bring up the degree of trust on vaccines.

We agree with the senator that the restoration of jobs lost in the pandemic and, to a large extent, our economic recovery depend on the success of the nationwide vaccination program.

Instead of firing workers who just want to ensure their health and safety, our employers ought to protect the right of members of the working class to a just and decent wage.