No work suspension for Laguna BPOs despite harmful ash fall

Photos taken from installed IP camera monitoring the activity of Taal Volcano of PHILVOCS.

Gabriela Women’s Party called out the action, reminding BPO firms that the current ash fall is “an occupational safety and health issue.” GWP cited Republic Act 11058, or the Occupational Safety and Health Law, which states that workers have right of refusal to work without threat or reprisal if an imminent danger exists in the workplace.

By JUSTIN UMALI
Bulatlat.com

SANTA ROSA, Laguna – Despite their proximity to the Taal volcano, BPO firms including IBM Nuvali and Conduit are still requiring their employees to report to work, January 13.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has reported that Taal volcano is spewing a lava fountain as of January 13, 8 am, and warns that a volcanic eruption may be imminent, issuing an Alert level 4 warning for the area.

A sizeable number of BPO firms in Calabarzon are located in the Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay road, approximately 20 kilometers away from the Taal volcano. Santa Rosa is currently experiencing heavy rain of ash and large rock fragments with diameters ranging from 2 to 64 millimeters (2.5 inches).

Gabriela Women’s Party called out the action, reminding BPO firms that the current ash fall is “an occupational safety and health issue.” GWP cited Republic Act 11058, or the Occupational Safety and Health Law, which states that workers have right of refusal to work without threat or reprisal if an imminent danger exists in the workplace.

Government offices in the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon have suspended work for the day in light of the heavy ash fall. Classes for all levels have also been suspended in provinces near the Taal volcano, including Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Laguna condemned companies who refuse to suspend work, saying in a statement that “this is boundless greed without care for the worker’s health and safety.”

“We urge all workers to exercise their right to refuse unsafe conditions. Do not let the audacity of these foreign capitalists go unchallenged,” Bayan-Laguna added.

The ongoing ash fall is also known as a lava haze, which can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation, and minor skin problems. The Department of Health is advising people to wear N95 face masks and protective goggles, and to minimize outdoor activities.

The Department of Health is also advising people to turn off air conditioning and fans; another risk BPO workers have to take as a consequence of working in an office environment. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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