BPO employee’s concerns underscore risks faced by workers amid COVID-19 threat » Manila Bulletin News

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BPO employee’s concerns underscore risks faced by workers amid COVID-19 threat

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By Dhel Nazario

“Will I stay with my family or will I report for work?”

This is the predicament of a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) worker amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.

BPO will remain operational. This was part of Monday night’s announcement of an enhanced community quarantine covering the entire Luzon.

This left its workers with the vexing question of whether they should stay home or they report for work in order to earn.

“We do not deserve this,” said John, a BPO employee who requested anonymity as he shared with Manila Bulletin the struggle he and co-workers face following the government’s decision to place the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He said that the announcement left him with only two choices – to stay home and be more safe, or report for work and risk being exposed to the disease but in return will give him the opportunity to provide the basic needs of his family.

This single decision of his can affect the outcome of their lives in the following days. Should he choose to work, John would have to face the challenges brought about by the crippling blow that the transportation sector took after the announcement.

“Nanlulumo ako, hindi ko alam kung iri-risk ko sarili ko pumasok para may panggastos ng kailangan sa bahay o mag-stay sa bahay kaso pag tumagal magugutom kami ( It’s depressing. I don’t know if I will compromise my safety by going to work so I can provide for my family or stay at home and soon starve),” he said.

He said that he will ask his dad to give him a motorcycle ride to work and fetch him afterward. John will opt to do this, despite knowing that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) already prohibited backriding in motorcycles. John will take risk for his family.

“Kagabi, hindi naman kami sinita. As per LTO, oo bawal ang angkas pero maraming umangal (Last night, authorities did not accost us. The LTO said that backriding is not allowed but a lot complained),” he said.

John lives in Manila and works in a company in Pasay, a place not so distant if it were not for the circumstances of the transport sector. He mentioned that their company gave them three options.

The first option was for them to stay at the workplace where they will be given free food, lodging, shower and laundry services. The second was to stay at the nearest hotel.

John’s work makes him more susceptible to being infected, due to the graveyard shift. Since the company needs employees and the employees need to earn, the company came up with the third option of increasing their pay should they report for work.

As good as the two options sound, most of them declined and opted to just come to work and go home afterwards despite the current situation.

“Ang common reason is takot mawalay sa family at baka ma-contaminate ng ka-trabaho (The common reason for declining is that they are afraid to part with their families as well as the fear of being infected with the disease),” he said.

As John is still unsure of what to decide, he said that if push comes to shove, he will be choosing the third option. Regardless of what he comes into terms with his self, both decisions pose a threat to him and his family.

Monday night’s announcement of an enhanced community quarantine covering the whole area of Luzon created challenges to the working community, particularly those who will not earn if they will not punch their time cards and finish a whole day of work.

Private establishments which provide basic necessities such as food and medicine will continue operations.

As of press time, John, along with hundreds of workers are still left with many questions.

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