Bishop in Philippines Asks More Worker Protection

Effort Need Amid Onslaught of Covid-19 Pandemic

Bishop Philippines
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, chairperson of Church People-Workers Solidarity. DIOCESE OF SAN CARLOS

A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has used his Labor Day message in calling for more measures to protect workers amid the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, reported CBCP News.

More than a year into the pandemic, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) said the government has failed to protect workers’ rights.

“Government apathy and inefficiency has failed to protect workers’ safety and health,” Alminaza said. “In the guise of ‘reviving the economy’, workers’ safety and lives are put in jeopardy.”

He lamented how millions of workers continue to suffer from the “ever-worsening” socio-economic conditions brought about by record-high unemployment rate, rising inflation, and lack of income.

The San Carlos bishop echoed the call of labor organizations for a P100 daily wage subsidy in order to augment the workers’ meager income.

To keep the economy thriving, he said that the government must keep the workers “protected and alive”.

“We believe that workers are the bloodline of the society,” Alminaza said.

The CWS also joins labor organizations and workers’ unions in demanding:

    • mass testing and aggressive contact tracing in workplaces
    • free and safe vaccine for all workers
    • a substantial cash aid for all
    • and the passing of the Paid Pandemic Leave Bill.

Alminaza also condemned the “relentless” killings of activists, human rights defenders, labor leaders, and union members.

“We celebrate this year’s Labor Day in the midst of heightened economic onslaught and intensified political repression,” he added.

“As church people, we will not be silenced in the midst of these attacks. We will not cower in the midst of harassment, persecution, and intimidation,” the prelate also said.

The Church People – Workers Solidarity (CWS) is a non-profit organization. It is an ecumenical body composed of bishops, clergy, religious men and women, lay leaders, and workers that shall spearhead in harnessing the church people’s initiatives towards solidarity with the workers. It shall further engage in activities that truly reflect the oneness of the church with the workers’ life and aspirations.