Gawa backs transport sector’s protest vs modernization program

General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) secretary-general Wennie Sancho
General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) secretary-general Wennie Sancho File photo

General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) secretary-general Wennie Sancho has expressed support for all the workers in the transport sector in their nationwide protest to express their indignation against the alleged deep sense of injustice as they demand a comprehensive and just transition system in lieu of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), which for Gawa is anti-worker and anti-poor.

Sancho, in a statement Tuesday, November 21, said that in the midst of soaring unemployment, phasing out public utility vehicles (PUV) or jeepneys will proliferate unemployment and exacerbate the worsening economic situation.

He said hundreds of thousands of workers in the transport sector will be displaced and their families will suffer from hunger and poverty as jeepney operators and drivers that have not complied with the PUV Modernization program can no longer ply their routes.

"Traditional jeepney drivers were shocked to find that their franchises were being cancelled or modified for being non-compliant with the PUVMP," he said.

Moreover, Sancho said new franchises and routes were being issued to large corporations, which are investing in modern jeepney units and other facilities.

"This program is grossly anti-poor and unjust," he added.

He said that transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) claims that in total, the pandemic has affected 500,000 jeepney drivers and 200,000 small jeepney operators.

Sancho noted that these are the same idled transport workers and operators expected to modernize their fleet.

"In total, one modern jeepney unit would cost around P2.5 million, more than ten times the current cost of a traditional jeepney," Sancho said.

He said that compared to taxis and buses, which are owned by big companies, jeepneys are often owned by low-income jeepney operators and drivers.

"In the face of this questionable program, the government failed to protect the rights and welfare of the workers and the commuters as well due to this unreasonable phase-out program," he added.*


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