AMID COVID-19 | BPO workers call for job safety

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BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) Bacolod chapter is calling on the government to look at the plight of the industry workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aaron Cristal, BIEN Bacolod president, in a statement, said the crisis has an impact on the workers’ safety, jobs, and rights at work, stressing that the BPO industry is the second economic growth driver in the country, after the overseas Filipino workers.

However, BPO workers receive no social protection and are faced with health and safety risks, he said.

“The absence of a law to protect the BPO workers is making the industry sacrifice its people over profit as reflected by numerous labor cases around the country,” he added.

He said the lack of support from government reflects on each worker’s capacity to live on a daily basis with now meager wages, most especially in the provinces, while mismatched jobs continue to rise.

He said their group is calling on the government and BPO companies to look into their plight and demands, including for the government to ensure occupational health and safety through free mass testing, immediate contact tracing, and free treatment against Covid-19, as well as quarantine facilities for BPO workers and workplace inspection.

They also asked for near-site accommodation and door-to-door shuttle service for employees, as well as mandatory hazard pay for workers working on-site and additional health benefits.

They asked that sharing of headsets in call centers be prohibited, and to protect agents from unfair productivity targets and long work hours.

Meanwhile, BIEN Bacolod chapter strongly denounced Iloilo radio anchor Jun Capulot’s degrading remarks about call center workers, as they demanded sensitivity on commentaries by having better understanding and knowledge of the plight of call center agents.

The commentary shamelessly demeaned call center agents after he said the workers don’t use their brain cells and only press keyboards at work, the group said.

Capulot has already issued a public apology on his commentary, following the negative remarks of call center agents and netizens on social media site Facebook.*

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