IN LINE with its advocacy to protect the rights and welfare of workers, the General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa) has activated its organizing mechanism for the delivery service workers including drivers in Negros Occidental.
Its secretary general Wennie Sancho said all workers in the delivery service sector, whether regular or contractual, can affiliate with Gawa individually or by groups.
Sancho said since delivery workers and drivers were not unionized, they can be protected by the group, which is an organization for the mutual aid and protection of unorganized workers.
“Most of these workers are vulnerable to exploitation and abuses by some unscrupulous employers,” he added.
The Bacolod City-based labor group noted that amid the pandemic, delivery services of foods and goods had scaled up as one of the most profitable businesses in the country.
It said there were massive reports and complaints of abuses and discrimination, terms and conditions of employment that violate labor standards, violations of minimum wage, and illegal dismissals, among others.
Workers under this categories will be classified under Gawa’s Delivery Services Workers and Drivers (DSWD), it added.
Its official lamented that the labor problem of these workers is compounded by the malpractices of most delivery companies to "contract out" services that are necessary and desirable to the business of the company to a third party called "independent contractors" to escape the social responsibilities resulting due to the existence of an employee-employer relationship.
Sancho, also the labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, asserted that this circumvention of the law should be stopped by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).
He said that in their ardent desire to earn more to sustain the economic needs of their families, delivery workers and drivers are overworked but underpaid.
Also, under stress to meet their deadline or quota they are prone to accidents during rush hour or in times of natural calamities, Sancho also said.
“What they urgently need is adequate social protection like health insurance and hospitalization in case of accidents,” he said, adding that their contribution to the economy as frontliners cannot be understated.
The Gawa official further said the contribution of delivery sector workers to the wealth and profit of the capitalist is not appreciated.
What they got are usually the “crumbs of the bread,” he said.
“[So] we must learn to respect our workers and give what is due for them. Labor which is called the primary social economic force should be treated with dignity and respect, because the recovery of our economy, amid the pandemic, lies on their toiling hands,” Sancho added.