Deputy House Speaker and Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar on Monday urged her colleagues to pass a bill seeking to protect and provide health and financial assistance to waste workers throughout the country.
“They play a vital role in solid waste management and contribute greatly in protecting the environment. Despite their importance, waste workers are some of the most under-appreciated and unprotected workers,” Villar said in a statement.
Under her House Bill (HB) 9806 or An Act Establishing the Waste Workers Health and Welfare Act Program, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be tasked to handle the program designed to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of waste workers in the country.
“We should all work together to promote the health, safety, and welfare of waste workers throughout the country. Let us recognize the critical role that they play in maintaining the cleanliness and sustainability of our communities,” Villar said.
The waste workers, under HB 9806, shall be referred to persons engaged in the collection, transportation, processing, and disposal of solid waste, including garbage collectors, waste pickers, recyclers, and landfill and dumpsite workers.
They shall be provided with health coverage and benefits, occupational safety training, personal protective equipment, educational and financial assistance, and other benefits.
The program shall also have a Registration and Monitoring System where the names of all waste workers in the country will be saved in a database for purposes of coverage under the program.
All beneficiaries shall be granted a package of healthcare benefits, including free annual check-ups, vaccinations, and hospitalization assistance, in partnership with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Regular training programs on methods, techniques, and the proper use of personal protective equipment to minimize the risks associated with waste handling shall also be made available to all beneficiaries, who will also be provided with suitable and adequate personal protective equipment free of charge by their employers or agencies.
Villar also proposed under her bill that waste workers and their dependents be given priority access to educational assistance programs and scholarship grants.
The DOLE, in collaboration with qualified financial institutions, shall also provide waste workers with low-interest loans for housing, emergency situations, or the establishment of sustainable livelihood businesses.
Funding for the implementation of the proposed Waste Workers’ Health and Welfare Act shall be included in the annual budget of the labor department, as well as grants, donation, contributions, and other forms of assistance. (PNA)