ORGANIZED labor has called on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging
Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to place airline workers on the A1 vaccination priority list amid the impending reopening by the government of the tourism industry as part of a larger effort to revive the economy.
In making the appeal, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) pointed out that cabin crew, flight attendants, pilots and other aviation workers should be placed on the AI priority vaccination list because they are considered frontline workers.
All frontline workers. it pointed out, are similarly situated as seafarers and overseas Filipino workers, who contribute enormously to keeping the economy afloat under a dangerous health environment, and should therefore be given firstline priority by the government for mass vaccination against the threat of Covid-19 infection.
"Air transport relies on air crew, who travel across borders at all times,which may result in the need to present proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition for entry in some countries. For Philippine air transport to sustain various industries and to carry domestic and foreign tourists, our crew need to be vaccinated as soon as possible," the labor group said.
"Failure to vaccinate our air crew will result in the application of stringent public health rules to aircrew, " it stressed. "This is the similar problem that confronted our seafarers and OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) before they were given A1 priority classification."
In preparation for a total reopening of the tourism industry, the IATF issued on May 31, 2021 Resolution 118 allowing the travel of tourists of all ages from Metro Manila and four nearby provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal to areas under modified general community quarantine until June 31, 2021.
It said that flight attendants, cabin crew, pilots, ground personnel and other aviation workers are working in confined and congested spaces, thus are highly vulnerable to Covid-19 exposure and should be vaccinated first before serving the tourism sector or the global supply chain.
The group claimed that more than 5,000 Filipino aviation workers were permanently laid off and thousands more were placed on floating-on-call status since the pandemic crisis hit the airline sector more than a year ago. Distressed airlines also turned to pay cuts and reduction of benefits instead of layoffs to preserve their workforce.
In the case of Cebu, Pacific cabin crew union Juan Wing Association of the Philippines (JWAP), said it is working closely with the management in dealing with the crisis.