A labor union in the Philippines has demanded that contact centers must ban agents from sharing headsets, arguing that BPO workers are more vulnerable to respiratory diseases like coronavirus (COVID-19) than employees in other sectors.
The Union, the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN), has even criticized the industry in harsh terms, urging call center firms not to put employees’ health at risk in their drive to make a profit.
Sharing headset is unhygienic, yet it is a common practice in many call centers in the Philippines.
“Up to now, we still get reports of sharing of headsets in a number of call center companies. We have been opposing this for a long time,” the Union stated in its blog.
Many call center agents work at night, which weakens their immunity. And this is precisely the kind of people who are more prone to coronavirus. And one of the symptoms found in the infected patients is breathlessness.
“Three out of ten occupational diseases experienced by workers in the BPO industry is respiratory in nature………. Thus, BPO workers are a highly vulnerable population once the COVID 19 begins to spread,” the Union has argued.
The Philippines is often described as the world’s call center capital, with hundreds of American corporate firms depending on Filipinos for customer care service. Also, the industry is the second-largest source of income for the Philippines, employing 1.2 million people and generating $22 billion in annual revenue.