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Non-inclusion in vax priority list dismays BPO workers

THE BPO Industry Employees Network has raised concern over the sudden non-inclusion of BPO workers in the A4 Vaccination Priority Group, after no less than the Palace recognized them as essential ‘economic front liners’ or those whose services continued even amid the ECQ.

The DOH recently released an updated detailed guideline for A4 priority category which is supposed to include workers who are employed in essential industries, but failed to include BPO workers.

We are aghast and at the same time dismayed when the news came out that BPO workers are not included in the A4 priority group for the national vaccination program. This development is going against the previous pronouncement of the Presidential Spokesperson that our sector is included as priority,” said Mylene Cabalona, National President of BIEN.

The group had welcomed earlier statements from the Malacañang and IATF that BPO workers as economic frontliners are included in the priority group.

Last week, BIEN raised their concern regarding the surge of COVID cases and workplace infections from various regions this year. The group quoted media reports of cases from Baguio (255 workers), Iloilo (105), Bacolod (41), Cavite (14), and NCR (40). They stated that these numbers are still conservative due to the lack of transparency among companies.

The BPO industry remained operational, from the onset of the pandemic until now at the height of another surge of infection. Workers have been braving the risks of the health crisis and rendering continuous service to support our clients as well as contribute to the economy,” added Cabalona.

The group noted that despite the contraction in GDP growth which is at -9.5%, the BPO industry was able to generate USD 26.3 billion in 2020. Amid challenges brought about by the global pandemic, the sector remains a pillar of the country’s economy. This output can be attributed to the resiliency and leading contribution of BPO workers.

Our non-inclusion in the priority group sends a strong message, that they do not regard us as essential. That we are not relevant. This is not only unfair to the 1.3 million Filipino BPO workers but also a blatant disregard to the significant contribution of our service, as if we are not front liners as well,” Cabalona decried.

BIEN furthered that in order to achieve herd immunity, more people must be inoculated at the soonest possible time. Hence, including more frontline workers in the list of priority groups for the vaccine is a welcome development. However, the group insists that BPO workers must also be included.

We appeal to DOH and IATF to duly recognize BPO workers as economic front liners and therefore essential workers, by including us in the A4 priority group,” Cabalona concluded.