Employers group sees increase in operational expenses as ‘new normal’ dawns

Marje Pelayo   •   May 1, 2020   •   352

MANILA, Philippines — The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is gearing up for the resumption of businesses especially in Metro Manila in the advent of the “new normal”.

ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luiz Jr. said they have members who are now looking for larger spaces in order to comply with the new safety and health standards, specifically the social or physical distancing protocol.

With the new policy, they are expecting to incur higher operational expenses.

Lalo pa nga yung opisina sa manufacturing alam naman natin na kadalasan maliliit lang ang lugar nila. Ang social spacing natin siguro mahihirapan munang makapasok lahat ng empleyedo dahil maraming adjustment na gagawin,” Ortiz-Luiz said.

[Offices in the manufacturing sector, as we know, usually have small spaces. With such social spacing, it might be a struggle to allow all employees to come because of many adjustments that need to be done.]

I think, marami roon sa mga maliliit na kumpanya natin kung magbubukas man, siguro aabutin ng mga anim na buwan at least, para mag-100% na makabalik sa trabaho,” he added.

[I think, many of our small businesses even if they opt to open, it would take six more months before they allow 100 per cent of their workforce to come on site.]

Meanwhile, the group is also taking into consideration adopting a work-from-home arrangement for its workers, though it admits such a process will not be applicable to all sectors such as in hotel and restaurant services.

Ortic-Luiz also noted that Internet connection in the Philippines is not as efficient and stable as that of other countries.

Iyong mga business processing syempre may problema din tayo sa security ng data [Of course, when it comes to business processing firms, the problem will be with data security],” he said.

The group said some of their members managed to release salaries for their employees even as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is imposed.

Small-scale businesses, on the other hand, only depend on government aid for their employees. 

Meanwhile, employers may opt to defer Labor Day holiday pay for their employees until their respective companies recover.

However, labor groups said such changes in labor policies may result in payment cuts and removal of privileges among workers.

Kung luluwag (yung mga polisiya) baka lumiit yung sweldo, baka mabawasan yung binabayad sa SSS, PAGIBIG at Philhealth at magbabawas ng expenses sa paggamit ng personal protective equipment ng kanilang mga manggagawa,” argued Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the Associated Labor Union – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

[If labor policies are relaxed, worker privileges may be cut like SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth benefits, and companies may opt to cut expenses for personal protective equipment for them.]

The labor group advises workers to stay at home and stay safe from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while changes are being made in their sector. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Alarm raised in UK beach resort as huge crowds ignore COVID advice

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Authorities in Bournemouth, a popular coastal town in southern England, declared a “major incident” on Thursday (June 25) over what they called the irresponsible behavior of crowds who had ignored public health guidance on coronavirus and badly overstretched local services.

The declaration came after visitors arrived in huge numbers in a spell of hot weather, resulting in gridlock on the roads, illegal overnight camping, excessive waste, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled fights.

Social distancing measures have been in place in Britain since March to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, although the rules are due to be significantly relaxed from July 4.

With pubs still closed, many people have been heading to parks and beaches to meet friends and drink alcohol, in some cases ignoring advice to keep two metres apart.

In Bournemouth, roads were obstructed by illegal parking, crews were abused as they attempted to empty overflowing bins and 33 tonnes of waste had to be removed from the stretch of coastline in and around the town on Thursday morning.

The emergency response will involve extra police patrols, security to protect rubbish collectors, additional parking enforcement, evictions of unauthorized campers and signage on approach roads warning people not to come. (Reuters)

(Production: Iona Serrapica, Yann Tessier)

Wearing facemasks, social distancing can help curb COVID-19 spread in PUVs – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reiterated that wearing facemasks and observing social distancing can help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease, especially when riding public utility vehicles.

This was the response of the DOH to the statement of research group IBON Foundation that riding open-air vehicles such as jeepneys would not pose any risk of getting COVID-19.

“The mode of transmission is droplet infection. With our without aircon, basta naka-mask kayo lahat, you are distant to the person next to you at hindi kayo cramped, the possibility of getting infected is very low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.

The IBON Foundation earlier said that traditional open-air public utility jeepneys are safer for passengers compared with air-conditioned modern jeepneys amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group cited numerous findings of researchers and guidelines from authorities around the world, including:

  • Findings of University of Amsterdam physicists and medical researchers which states that small cough droplets, potentially containing virus particles, can float in the air in a room for many minutes, especially when the room is poorly ventilated;
  • The European Center for Disease Control advise to ensure ventilation in the vehicle/wagon/boat at all times, and avoid recirculating air and encourage the use of windows, skylight panels, and fans to increase replacement with fresh air;
  • Thailand’s transport ministry’s instruction to public transport operators to open windows for good air ventilation
  • China’s advice to public transport groups to have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets
  • India’s directive enjoining buses to improve ventilation by increasing the frequency of fresh air intake.

IBON Foundation’s executive director Sonny Africa believes these studies will help the cause of jeepney drivers and operators who have been calling for the lifting of ban to operate amid the enforcement of community quarantine.

“Hindi kailanman matatapatan ng mga enclosed modern jeepneys yung sariwang hangin sa modern jeepney. So para dun lamang tingin namin malaking advantange ng mga tradional jeepney sa mga modernized airconditioned jeepney,” he said.

The DOH, however, said there is still a need to reconfigure traditional open-air jeepneys to meet minimum health standards.

“Napakalaki ng risk sa jeepneys dahil ang kanilang sakay ay face to face hindi katulad doon sa bus parang mga upuan na hindi magkakaharap,” Vergeire said.

Old model of public jeepneys are not yet allowed to resume operations under the general community quarantine, based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Modern jeepneys and buses have been allowed to ply the roads again at a limited capacity to accommodate the volume of commuters who have been permitted to return to work amid the crisis.

Malacañang earlier said that the ban on traditional jeepneys may be lifted if the present number of modern jeepneys and buses are insufficient to ferry passengers.

The Department of Transportation also said it is still crafting the guidelines for the resumption of traditional jeepney operations. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

New Zealanders enjoy life back to normal after social distancing restrictions lifted

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

Life for New Zealanders returned to normal on Tuesday (June 9) as the government lifted all social distancing restrictions except for border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus.

Cafes in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington were seen packed with customers, and public transportation also resumed at full capacity.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality, with public and private events, the retail and hospitality industries and all public transport allowed to resume without the distancing rules still in place across much of the world.

The reopening comes after months of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia hsu)

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