Sunday, March 13, 2005

NR0314: Workers and family planning

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release March 14, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Family planning not workers' top priority as health demand: medical and dental services, observance of Occupational Health
and Safety (OSHS) standards are - Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today expressed skepticism over the report released by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics that most workers demand family planning as part of their non-wage benefits in their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with managements. "It's more likely that workers demand general health and dental benefits in their CBA - most factories and corporations do not even have in-house doctors, nurses or dentists; and the level of work-related illnesses and diseases are high in factory belts in Valenzuela, Malabon and North Caloocan, as well as in the export processing zones in Cavite, Central Luzon and the rest of Southern Tagalog," he said.

Beltran said that there were estimates that only one in every 10,000 factories in the country with workforces numbering more than 100 have doctors or even just clinics. "When workers get ill, they often can't afford to go to the hospital. Most of them just take paracetamol tablets," he concluded.#

Beltran said that Patricia Sto. Tomas' report that workers are demanding family planning programs is exaggerated. "The truth is, workers are demanding high health benefits such sick leaves, vacation leaves, and the implementation of safety measures and installation of safety devices in the workplace. The DOLE keeps mostly mum on the violation of employers of occupational health and safety standards in the workplace. Workers in factories often have tuberculosis, asthma and other lung diseases because of poor ventilation, excessive heat, and long hours," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned activist lawmaker said that Sto. Tomas is trying to "suck up" (sip-sip) further to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as the president has declared full-support for the implementation of family planning methods.

"But even as workers would support a family planning campaign, what they deem more important and urgent is the implementation of thorough-going medical and dental programs in the workplace, and the observance of occupational health and safety standards," he said.

Official government statistics involving violations of Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) reflect a glaring inability to closely monitor such violations, much less strictly enforce OSHS and other related labor laws. There's even a DOLE report that out of the almost 500,000 business establishments in the country, only 26,350 have been inspected and 9,657 of these have been found to be seriously violating the general labor standards and occupational health and safety regulations. Based on government statistics, more than 4,000 workers are injured annually due to industrial accidents.

The Bureau of Working Conditions is the agency immediately responsible for monitoring violations of OSHS. The agency readily admits that one of the perennial problems in carrying out its mandate is the lack of competent and qualified inspectors to monitor the almost half a million establishments in the country. There are only 233 labor inspectors nationwide, 186 are tasked with enforcing the general labor standards, barely leaving 57 inspectors to enforce the OSHS. The inadequacy of manpower resources can be attributed to the scarcity of budget to accommodate additional personnel - a glaring reflection of the government's apathy towards OHS.#


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