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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Workers condemn suggested nurses-for-vaccine "deal"

Workers claim they are treated like commodities

MANILA – Workers who belong to NAGKAISA said with almost a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration remains confused as it remains unprepared to enter into contracts with vaccines’ suppliers.

They claim the administration has not respected workers’ rights and treat them like commodities.

“First, governments restricts the rights of nurses and medical workers to travel and work abroad,” the Labor coalition said in their statement released earlier today. They added other than low wages and no hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic, no opportunities were extended to them except asking them to work as volunteers or enter into a limited contract of services.

The coalition added travel restriction is equivalent to deprivation of their constitutional right to life, including the right to travel, livelihood and the pursuit of happiness sans due process of law.

“Now the government would like to sell our nurses as if they are commodities in a barter arrangement in exchange for vaccines,” they added.

Meanwhile, Migrante – Europe condemned the Duterte government’s “commodification of Filipino nurses.”

In a statement, the group condemned the reported government plan of securing COVID-19 vaccines from the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange of lifting the employment cap for nurses to work in the said countries.

“It is a shame that the Duterte government exploited the dignity of our Filipino nurses, making them as a bargaining tool for the utter incapacity of government regarding the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Marlon Lacsamana, Migrante-Europe Secretary General in a statement.

The group called the Duterte government to task to end export of labor by providing jobs and just wages in the Philippines as it has “once again showed its heartless and cruel treatment of our health care workers by threating them as bargaining chips of the government for access to anti-COVID-19 vaccines.

Elnora Held, Gabriela-Germany President said the commodification of Filipino nurses is an expression of lack of concern for Filipino migrant workers.

“The dedication of our nurses working to address the COVID-19 virus exemplifies the image of the working Filipinos; sadly, our own government desired to use our Filipino nurses as a means of exchange just to beg for the supply of vaccines,” she said.

They called in the government to stop holding Filipino nurses hostage in the desire to acquire vaccines. (Melo M. Acuña)

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