DOLE: Informal sector workers to be tapped as contact tracers

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    INFORMAL sector workers that will be displaced by the reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces are set to be tapped as contact tracers by local government units, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

    In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he personally broached the idea of tapping informal sector workers as contact tracers under the agency’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.

    “We volunteered to the Department of Interior and Local Government that our emergency employment beneficiaries be used as contact tracers of COVID-19 cases,” said Bello.

    Bello said the DILG should train the displaced workers as contact tracers.

     “After training, they can already be used in contact tracing activities. So we will leave it to the better judgement of the DILG,” said Bello.

    TUPAD is a community-based assistance program that provides emergency employment for displaced informal sector workers, where they are paid the prevailing daily minimum wage in their respective regions.

    “It will already be up to local government officials (on) how many they will need as contact tracers. They can just use our TUPAD beneficiaries,” he said.

    Asked if they have enough budget to shoulder the salaries of informal workers, he said: “Our legislators are very conscious of the needs of our workers so they provided us with a decent appropriation.”

    The enhanced community quarantine was reimposed in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, and Cavite yesterday and will take effect until April 4.

    Bello has said the reimposition of ECQ will surely have adverse effects on workers in the concerned areas.

    He also said the DOLE is ready to provide assistance to formal sector workers.

    “It’s still the same: P5,000 cash assistance to workers, who won’t be able to go to work due to the high level quarantine,” said Bello.