Dole asked to assist ASF-affected workers

MABALACAT CITY -- A labor group has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to make an emergency employment plan for employees who might lose their jobs because of the African Swine Fever (ASF).

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) urged Dole to issue a contingency plan to help workers in the meat sector.

"The meat industry is now demanding support from the Agriculture department. It is the responsibility of the Labor department to protect meat workers in turn," said Leody de Guzman, chairperson of BMP.

He demanded an immediate inventory of affected firms, which are likely be the ones to pass on their loss to workers by retrenchment or reduced pay.

"The Department of Agriculture has reported P1 billion loss per month in the industry, but there is no calculation yet on how the ASF has cost labor in terms of rotations, layoffs and extended work hours," the labor leader said.

The labor group also asked the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) of Dole to tighten health and sanitation regulations in the agriculture and food manufacturing sector.

"Luckily, the ASF does not affect people, but what if the meat industry suddenly encounters diseases capable of cross-species transmission? Wouldn't those workers who clean and process the meat or be the first ones to be infected?" he said.

De Guzman said workers need a new set of occupational safety and health insurance coverage given the global rise in communicable diseases.

"For so long, our workers have been in the frontline of protecting consumers from industry's cost-cutting practices with their due diligence in food handling and packaging. We must afford them the same protection," he added.


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