City to open vaccination slots for call center workers


Bacolod City, Negros Occidental— After getting flak for excluding workers in call center industry in the city’s COVID-19 vaccination priority, despite the fact that they too belong within the A4 priority group, the city is expected to accommodate these night owls in the coming weeks.

Hajee Birth Aquino, president of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information Communications Technology (BNEFIT), said that they have already made an appeal to the city to include workers in information technology business process management (IT-BPM) in the on-going vaccination rollout.

According to Aquino, BNEFIT has already reached out to major IT-BPM businesses to address concerns that could jeopardize the health of thousands of workers. Early this year, the city was forced to shut down Transcom’s business operations after it detected an increase of COVID-19 cases among employees.

In several emails sent to Negros News Online, some BPO workers said that they registered on the online vaccination portal as early as March, but they have yet to receive a text message for their vaccination schedule. It was last week when the city opened slots for A4, but it was abruptly stopped after hundreds of individuals hoping to get a vaccine trooped to various vaccination centers.

An officer of Panasiatic who request for anonymity due to a lack of authority to speak to the media, said that their office has sent the city a letter twice requesting that their workers be included in the vaccination, but the city has yet to respond on their request. Panasiatic is just a stone throw away from the Bacolod City Government Center which also served as a vaccination venue in the past.

Aquino said that their organization will continue to coordinate with the local government to come up with a more tangible plan in the coming weeks to facilitate a more convenient schedule for the vaccine rollout. Most workers in their sector are on graveyard shift, which make it a big challenge to workers to queue in mega vaccination sites and even in barangay. A worker in an email to NNO said that while their group attempted to queue in at least 2 vaccination sites, they cannot simply stay for more than 4 hours just to get the vaccine due to lack of sleep.

Big players like Concentrix and Teleperformance meanwhile in separate statements earlier announced that their organizations are procuring vaccines to inoculate all their employees in the country. But in its most recent press statements, Teleperformance and Concentrix clarified that their employee vaccination program is currently being rolled out only in Manila due to limited supplies of vaccines.

Other players like iQor, Transcom and Teletech have also to rely on government’s vaccination program across the Philippines while they await for the arrival of company procured vaccines.

Aquino hopes that with the support from the local government of Bacolod the industry will be able to alleviate the threat and sustain the growth and existence of the industry despite the pandemic. Mayor Evelio Leonardia when he virtually met with call center executives last August 10, 2020 acknowledged the role that the BPO companies play in the local economy. The mayor even dubbed them as the crown jewel of the city in his previous speeches.