BPO firms called out for not evacuating employees following earthquake
MANILA, Philippines – A group pushing for the welfare and protection of business process outsourcing (BPO) employees has called out outsourcing firms that did not evacuate their workers following the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that rocked Luzon on Monday, April 22.
BPO Industry Employees Network spokesperson Mylene Cabalona told Rappler on Wednesday, April 24, that BIEN received reports from BPO employees who were not evacuated following the earthquake.
Cabalona said that while there were companies that moved their employees to another worksite to continue operations, there were those that chose to keep their workers in the offices.
"[Moving employees to another area] is okay. Other companies, however did not even evacuate their own employees," she said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Cabalona said she received a report that a BPO company based in Cubao conducts earthquake drills but did not observe the proper procedure when the actual event happened.
"One company from Cubao, 'di sila pinalabas pero may earthquake drill sila. Pero noong onset ng quake,'di sila pinapalabas ng nga supervisors," Cabalona said.
(One company from Cubao did not evacuate [the employees] but they hold earthquake drills. But during the onset of the earthquake, their supervisors did not allow them to leave)
Cabalona said in another BPO company, the supervisor reportedly told the employees that they need not evacuate since "the building can withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake."
BIEN said in a statement on Tuesday, April 23, that not evacuating BPO employees is "inhumane" and "illegal," given the enactment of Republic Act No. 11058 which strengthens compliance to occupational safety and health standards.
"Before you continue operations, there should be a safety inspection, [especially] in those areas," Cabalona said, referring to Pampanga, which was hard-hit by the earthquake.
She noted that "there are areas that were able to follow safety compliance."
"In Makati and Bonifacio Global City, there were no reports [of barring employees from evacuating]," Cabalone said.
BIEN also called on the government to penalize companies found violating the law. (READ: It’s ‘abuse’ to prevent workers’ evacuation during earthquake – labor group)
"I hope this law has teeth [to protect our workers]. The BPO workers, we consider this [industry] as the driver of our economy," Cabalona said. – Rappler.com