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Environmental group urges government to provide hazard pay for garbage collectors

An environmental group has urged the government to provide hazard pay for garbage collectors for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, EcoWaste Coalition said garbage collectors are serving as "environmental frontliners" amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

They said garbage collectors, particularly those who are assigned to household waste and healthcare waste, face "heightened health and safety risks."

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” President EcoWaste Coalition Eileen Sison said.

READ: Garbage collectors continue working amid COVID-19 threat

Government employees who physically report for work during the quarantine period are entitled to hazard pay under Administrative Order No. 26.

But the group is concerned that this may not apply to garbage collectors who are hired by waste management companies contracted by local government units (LGUs).

"We believe that garbage collectors are entitled to hazard pay -- regardless of their employment status – due to the risks they face in the performance of essential waste management services," Sison said.

The group sent a proposal letter to labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, environment secretary Roy Cimatu, interior secretary Eduardo Año, and budget secretary Wendel Avisado.

EcoWaste asked them to "strongly encourage" employers  to provide compensation for garbage collectors.

They also requested the national government to shoulder the responsibility as a "humanitarian gesture."

"These can be factored in the social amelioration benefits, or the disaster funds of the LGUs," the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The statement said the calculation of the requested hazard pay should start on March 17 until the community quarantine is lifted.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte extended the quarantine until April 30 to further curb the spread of COVID-19.

As of Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 3,660 with 163 deaths and 73 recoveries. --Jannielyn Bigtas/MGP, GMA News