Cebu City

As temperatures rise, Cebu laborers demand ‘heat breaks,’ safer work environment

John Sitchon

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As temperatures rise, Cebu laborers demand ‘heat breaks,’ safer work environment

COALITION. Labor leaders announced the formation of a new coalition and plans to hold a demonstration on International Labor Day during a press conference in Cebu City on Monday, April 29.

John Sitchon/Rappler

Workers shouldn’t be seen as merely machine parts in a factory, says Jaime Paglinawan, chairperson of Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno

CEBU, Philippines – Labor groups in Cebu challenged the national government to push for economic and eco-friendly solutions amid rising heat levels that continue to put workers at risk.

Jaime Paglinawan, chairperson of Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU), urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to improve the monitoring of factories’ compliance with safety and “climate-appropriate” standards.

“Regarding implementation (of monitoring), we demand compliance via the installation of proper ventilation inside factories, especially those that can be very hot, and water stations with free drinking water,” Paglinawan said in Cebuano in a press conference on Monday, April 29.

The labor leader stressed that workers shouldn’t be seen as merely machine parts in a factory – they are people who deserve to get “heat breaks” or periods that allow workers to rest in order to cope with the hot weather.

On April 26, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma urged companies to consider flexible working arrangements for employees who are struggling with the heat. 

Paglinawan cited multiple instances when workers in Cebu fell ill due to increased exposure to heat and failed to come to work for days or weeks.

Partido Manggagawa (PM) spokesperson Dennise Derige told reporters that food delivery riders are most affected by a lack of heat-resistant facilities as they are often made to wait long hours outside of restaurants when picking up delivery orders. 

Derige said that food companies should provide a riders hub with adequate protection from heat or allow delivery riders to stay inside establishments until orders are ready for delivery.

“The most important is for DOLE to strengthen their inspection of companies for occupational safety and health,” Derige said.

Just energy transition

Meanwhile, Teody Navea, Cebu chairperson of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said that the national government must also pursue “just energy transition.”

Navea explained that the transition involves moving towards the use of renewable energy sources and ensuring that workers in the fossil fuel industry will be compensated and supported in a carbon-less economy.

He added that the government must be aggressive in shifting to sustainable and green energy sources so as to combat global warming and reduce the effects of climate change.

Og naa gani transition, dili dapat maapektuhan mga mamumuo nga magtrabaho diha karon sa mga hugaw nga kompanya (If there is a transition, workers in pollutive companies should not be affected),” Navea said.

During the press conference, the Sugboanong Mamumuo Nagkahiusa Alang sa Living Wage (SANA ALL) coalition composed of labor groups in Cebu announced that they will bring their calls for better and safer working conditions to the streets on International Labor Day, May 1.

“The Labor Groups challenge President Marcos Jr., the Senate, and Congress to adhere to the 1987 Philippine Constitution regarding the living wage of P1,100 in Metro Manila, and even in Central Visayas, where the Family Living Wage for a family of five now reaches P1,268,” their statement read.

The coalition added that they will also bring up issues on trade union repression, red tagging, and intimidation efforts that prevent workers from joining labor unions, when they gather at the Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu City on Wednesday morning. –

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