UST labor unions raise concerns over Manila health ordinance

Union leader says policy an 'abuse' against workers
Art by Cali Asajar /THE FLAME

UST EMPLOYEES’ unions have expressed  concern over a requirement of the Manila city government to secure a health permit, citing the difficulties their members have to  undergo to comply with the policy.

In a letter addressed to Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna on Friday, June 21, Organisasyon ng Nagkakaisang Empleyado-UST (ONE-UST), a coalition of three labor unions in the University, said only about 850 of the approximately 2,500 employees have complied with the requirement.

“Some factors we see for this low turn-out are the distance of the designated testing facility and the discomfort our members experienced while collecting urine and stool samples in the below average conditions of the public toilets,” ONE-UST said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Flame.

“The hesitance of our members to inter-mingle with big crowds who may be sick or carry a virus; and the fact that many of our teachers come from the nearby provinces this vacation time,” it added.

Last April 25, Office of the Vice Rector for Finance (OVRF) issued a memorandum mandating all teaching and non-teaching personnel in  UST to secure their health certificates on or before May 31 in compliance with the Ordinance No. 8793 or the Sanitation and Disinfection Code of the City of Manila. The deadline was extended to June 30 through a separate OVRF memorandum.

Thomasian employees were advised to book and pay for a reservation at the City of Manila website, bring a valid ID, a stool sample, and a filled-out drug test form from the Go!Manila app, and a copy of their chest x-ray taken within the last three months.

Employees would then present all the necessary documents on the day of the appointment before taking  a urine sample for the drug test, and registering their biometrics before leaving.

The total costs for securing the health certificate, which must be renewed every year, is P625.

Ugnayan ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa-UST Hospital president Donell Siazon said the process of availing a health permit may be strenuous for the workers.

“First, you have to find time for it. It will take your time in an initiative that will require you to go through a lot of procedures for you to be cleared. Second, is to whom will your payment come from. Definitely, it will come from the pocket of the employees,” he said.

Siazon said members of the hospital staff were not included in the requirement but it is possible that they would be included in the future.

“This policy is an abuse of the workers, workers that only wish to sustain their everyday needs. [If you look at it another way,] this is an opportunity for the LGU (local government unit) to profit. Because, for so many years, this wasn’t implemented,” he added.

Some UST employees have reservations over the city government’s policy, saying its requirements are invasive and costly.
ONE-UST requested Lacuna to set up within UST a satellite office for the collection and testing of specimens and for the payment of fees and to extend the deadline for the securing of health permits to July 31. F — with reports from Ma. Alyanna Selda

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