By: Anne Lota Belandres

MANILA, Philippines – When the pandemic hit the Philippines, the industry of tourism took the biggest blow. As soon as the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was implemented, everything went to a halt. Our once busy Tourism industry was thrown into a seemingly unending hiatus. Hotel and restaurant operations were regarded as leisure and not integral at that moment.

The ramifications of this were devastating. It was a hard time for a lot of Tourism Industry Workers, their monthly payrolls did little or nothing to fend for their basic needs. They had to stop working because the establishments had to temporarily stop their operations.

This didn’t go unnoticed to the leadership of the National Union of Workers in Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries-Philippine Plaza Chapter (NUWHRAIN-PPC), our local union. They were there to look after their members, hearing out their cries for help. They listened, and they listened well. The quarterly distribution of rice must continue at all costs. The officers thought hard about how to get the subsidy to its members. Their cluster leaders reached out to all the members and asked them for their addresses.

Not long after, they all got their rice subsidy delivered at their doorstep, no fuss no frills. The union members happily posted their photos and thanked the officers for their collective efforts. They just recently distributed the 3rd quarterly rice subsidy. A huge help during the time when one of their most concerned is what to put on their tables. They also gave all the members Php 5,000 pesos from their emergency fund.

How did the members get it? It was deposited in their bank accounts. The cluster officers did the tedious process of getting all the bank account numbers of all the individuals and deposited it themselves despite the COVID-19 scare. The officers also released part of their savings from the Solidarity Fund of Union Members (SFUM), a program created for purposes such as these, and deposited them also in their bank accounts.

Most important of all, while other companies in the service and tourism industries are quick to shut down or massively layoff their employees, the Union through negotiation persuaded the management to maintain regular positions and exhaust all possible solutions to save employees their tenure. These are the efforts that sustained the union members during a difficult time. Had it not been for their commitment to helping, surviving COVID-19 would have been unbearable.

This is a very challenging year and yet that did not stop the union from being creative and resourceful in making things possible to help alleviate the feeling of uncertainty and worry. The officers saw through their needs and addressed it. Working despite the risk and doing it happily for Solidarity. Mabuhay ang NUWHRAIN PPC! CPM

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