Legarda files Magna Carta of Waste Workers bill

June 13, 2024

Senator Loren Legarda filed a bill seeking standardized working conditions for waste workers, citing their critical role in public health and environmental sustainability.

Legarda, the author and principal sponsor of Republic Act (RA) 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2636, otherwise known as the proposed Magna Carta of Waste Workers Act.

“The State should finally recognize the pivotal role our waste workers provide to everybody in the country, at the risk at their own lives, to properly dispose tons of waste our countrymen produce every day,” Legarda said.

“Despite their essential role, a large majority face numerous challenges to their well-being, including low wages, lack of job security, and exposure to hazardous materials, as well as undue discrimination and stigma due to the line of their work,” she added.

“We need to provide comprehensive legislation for them to protect their rights, improve working conditions, and integrate them into formal waste management systems.”

Under the proposed law, waste workers are categorized as either formal, referring to those employed by government, private companies or cooperatives; or informal, referring to waste pickers or scavengers.

Among the rights which will be provided include representation in the local government unit’s Solid Waste Management Board, as well as GSIS and SSS coverage, and hazard pay.

Annual medical exams shall also be provided by employers, as well as personal protective equipment, vaccination, and other prophylaxis such as tetanus shots.

Waste workers shall also be accorded access to comprehensive health services provided by a health maintenance organization (HMO), including hospitalization and regular medical check-ups.

The bill also proposes that waste workers shall not work exceeding eight hours, and the excess shall be paid overtime and holiday pay, based on current guidelines.

Persons who will discriminate waste workers will be meted arresto mayor and fined between P50,000 to P150,000.

LGU waste workers shall also be considered as target beneficiaries of socialized housing projects.

“Given the significant contributions and vulnerabilities of our waste workers, there is a pressing need for a Magna Carta or comprehensive legislation to protect their rights and improve their working conditions,” remarked Legarda.(30)