SSS, ILO sign agreement to provide social protection to emergency workers in Yolanda-stricken provinces

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QUEZON CITY, May 22 -- The Social Security System (SSS) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a Grant Agreement for the SSS coverage of workers employed under the Emergency Employment Program set up by the United Nations and ILO in provinces devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.

The signing ceremony was held on May 14 at the SSS main office in Quezon City, with the MOU inked by ILO Country Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson and SSS Senior Vice President for Accounts Management Judy Frances See.

In a statement, Under the Agreement, the ILO will provide the SSS a grant for three months’ worth of SSS contributions of around 6,160 workers who will be hired under the cash-for-work scheme. The emergency workers will be paid the prevailing minimum wage and shall be registered as self-employed SSS members. On SSS’ part, it shall facilitate the registration of the emergency workers and ensure that the ILO grant goes towards their SSS contributions. Aside from SSS, the ILO will also shoulder the workers’ contributions to Philhealth.

“We are very fortunate that government agencies, non-government organizations, and international institutions such as the ILO have banded together to provide means for the affected people to recover. The emergency employment programs or cash-for-work schemes for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda are important approaches to bringing needed livelihood to people and helping communities ‘build back better’, as ILO puts it,” See said.

The short-term jobs, which will be for a minimum of 15 days, involve the rehabilitation and rebuilding of areas and infrastructures such as debris-clearing of roads, declogging of drainage systems, preparation of agricultural lands for planting, and basic repair of public offices and health facilities. Majority of the emergency workers are based in Tacloban and Ormoc, while others are from Coron, Cebu, Bohol and Negros. According to ILO, its approach goes beyond short-term emergency employment as the program is intended to transition to medium-term, labor-based community work, skills training and enterprise development.

“The Social Security subsidy that the ILO will provide for the workers in these emergency employment programs is important as this will ensure that they are covered with SSS protection for their and their family’s future security,” See noted. “We look forward to this partnership with the ILO, and to serving the initial 6,160 emergency workers affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.” (SSS)