Duterte’s lockdown and complete disregard for the Filipino workers’ conditions has enabled Jeff Bezos, world’s richest man, to exploit further the country’s cheap labor amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
For six months now, employees of Teleperformance, a call center company contracted by Amazon’s Ring, have been calling for increased measures to ensure work safety against the Covid-19. They are among workers who worked through the pandemic, despite not being locally essential, during the strict lockdown which banned public transportation and shut almost the entire local economy down.
Teleperformance workers showed up for work everyday due to Ring’s policy of not allowing work-from-home arrangements to maintain security of customer data. In contrast, Amazon has allowed its corporate employees in the US to work from home and even extended the policy to 2021.
Filipino call center agents spoke to US-based journalists anonymously on October 15 to expose inhuman working conditions in their workplace. Teleperformance had already been put in the spotlight months ago when photos of their employees sleeping on the floor surfaced. Months later, their conditions only worsened.
Instead of providing accommodations, the company banned the workers from sleeping on floors, forcing them to seek expensive accommodations nearby. Public transportation is limited and shuttle services are severely lacking. Rent and transportation expenses cost more than 20% of their salaries.
Workers are crammed in air-conditioned offices where social distancing is impossible. Their workstations are not regularly disinfected. In the past months, dozens of workers have reported flu-like symptoms but were ignored. There is no mass testing. Those who were infected were sent home without pay. A death in the company was hushed up and workers do not know if the company is transmitting Covid-19 infections to the Department of Health properly.
These Filipino workers join the thousands of Amazon workers around the world who are ruthlessly squeezed in Bezos’ quest for more profits. In the last six months alone, Bezos’ personal wealth rose by an obscene 40%, adding a whopping $72 billion to his personal fortune.