BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
“We are not aware that it was mandatory,” Mark Lyndsell, chief executive officer of Transcom Global English Region said yesterday when asked why the Business Process Outsourcing firm was not using the city’s Covid-19 contact tracing system at their Bacolod site.
Emergency Operations Center chief executive officer Em Ang said they had a hard time doing the contact tracing after 41 Transcom employees tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 last week.
Lyndsell, who was in Bacolod along with Craif Buckley, senior vice president for Client Service Management of Transcom to meet with the EOC and tour the media around their facility, said they did not receive an official communication regarding the ordinance making the baCTrac system mandatory.
But Dr. Chris Sorongon, EOC deputy for medical and data analysis, said ignorance of the law excuses no one, adding that the baCTrac ordinance has been published before it was implemented to boost the contact-tracing effort of the city against Covid.
In fact, Sorongon said that during their second meeting on the implementation of the baCTrac application, a representative from Transcom was present.
Lyndsell said there could have been a miscommunication and they are now rectifying it because, to the best of their knowledge, they were under the impression that the baCTrac was just voluntary and not mandatory.
He added that in other areas where they operate and the tracking systems are mandatory, they have them in place, like in Pasig City where they have two sites.
Lyndsell also said that if they’ve known that the baCTrac was mandatory, they would have put the system in place from the very beginning.
Sorongon said it is impossible that Transcom has no idea that the baCTrac system is mandatory because many of their employees are actually enrolled in it.
Transcom had not resumed its onsite operations yesterday since the EOC still needs to inspect the workplace and make recommendations.
Those in close contacts with the 41 infected employees should observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine, based on the omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force before the EOC allows the resumption of onsite operations, Sorongon said.
He said Transcom can only resume operation if those who will report to work were able to finish the 14-day quarantine and their swab tests show that they are Covid-free. He said only the onsite operation of Transcom has been affected since its work-from-home arrangement is ongoing.
Sorongon also said the problem is that the firm lacks a monitoring mechanism because when they asked for the master list of employees, the firm took three days to comply and, on top of that, only the head security is facing the EOC and not the company’s doctor.
Lyndsell said they are now rectifying the errors and vowed to work with Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and the EOC to ensure that any miscommunication in the future is minimized. This is the first time since March 2020 that a Transcom senior leader from Manila was given permission to travel to Bacolod, given the restrictions.
He said they want to emphasize that part of their culture is to care for the welfare of their employees and the unfortunate event last week related to the Covid outbreak in their site is not part of it.
Lyndsell added that they will take all necessary steps and adjustments to show that they are responsible employers.
Asked about the losses they incurred in the last two days, he said they are more concerned on the tarnished image their company had because of what happened and they hope to regain the trust of the Bacolod City government.
TEAM BUILDING, DONATION
Reports last week circulated that some of the call center agents who got infected had a team building activity out-of-town but Lyndsell said this was not sanctioned by the company as it is not allowed.
He, however, said there were some employees who chose to ignore this order, and necessary actions will be issued against them for putting not only the company but the community where they live at risk.
Lyndsell said their site in Bacolod is huge and, as an employer, there is only so much that they can control especially within their facility, which means, when their employees go out of the workplace, they are already private citizens, who are expected to take precautionary measures. Meanwhile, Transcom is donating P500,000 to the South Hills quarantine facility in Barangay Alijis to aid in the recovery of Covid-19 patients in the city,” Lyndsell added.*