Decision to take back hazard pay of contractual airport workers, unjust

Following the state auditor’s order to recover the hazard pay amounting to P54.36 million given to contractual workers of the Manila International Airport Authority, the service contractor decided to deduct the benefit against workers' monthly salaries. Photo from NAIA MIAA Facebook page (cropped).
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A Labor NGO expresses dismay over the state auditor’s order to recover the hazard pay amounting to P54.36 million given to contractual workers of the Manila International Airport Authority last year. As per the memo released by the service contractor, the retracted hazard pay shall be deducted from workers’ monthly salaries. 

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that the decision is unjust and shows indifference to the plight of contractual workers who are in the frontlines. EILER also added that all workers deserve hazard pay given the risks they face while at work amid the pandemic. 

LSERV corporation, the service contract provider, issued the memo shortly after the Commission on Audit issued its Audit Observation Memorandum stating that contractual workers are not included in the list of recipients under Administrative Order No. 26 signed by President Duterte last year.

“The exclusion of contractual workers from getting hazard pay shows how labor flexibilization worsens social inequality. Non-regular employees work as much yet are paid lower wages, are subjected to long hours of work, without added benefits and social protection, yet they are ‘othered’ by the institution that supposedly protects them,” said Rochelle Porras, Executive Director of EILER. 

EILER also criticized the government’s exclusion of contractual workers in providing ayuda. Workers in transportation and tourism sectors are one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, yet the social aid they receive remains insufficient. 

EILER asserts that even if the government excluded contractual workers, LSERV should still provide the necessary hazard pay considering the service rendered by the workers throughout the pandemic is essential. The country’s leading service contractor should not deduct the hazard pay from the workers’ salaries given that it earned continuously during the pandemic and that its core values include “malasakit”.

“If the government is sincerely trying to revive the economy, instead of allotting billions for the privatization of public infrastructure and services, they should prioritize social aid and wage relief for workers,” Porras added.

Rights groups have been calling for a P10,000 per month ayuda and P100 wage relief for workers and families affected by the pandemic. However, these were excluded by Congress in approving the budget for Bayanihan 3. #

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