The drastic spread of COVID-19 is considered as the most crucial health calamity that disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses across the world. However, this pandemic brought the world to come together, bringing government and non-government organizations and individuals activate the concept of cooperativism. Some of the unsung active partners of the government in fighting this pandemic are cooperatives. In Region 2, St. Catherine Parish of Nueva Vizcaya Multipurpose Cooperative (SCPNVC) is amongst those who are actively helping its members and the community in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
Truly, COVID-19 has affected every business differently. Some opted for alternative work arrangement while others adjusted operation hours and some stopped operations entirely. This pandemic has tested businesses for making strategic business decisions in order to adapt in the new normal.
For St. Catherine, stopping business operations is not even an option. Understanding the needs of their members during this extremely difficult time, the coop resumed its operations on a limited capacity. SCPNVMPC adapted a skeleton workforce arrangement in order to serve its members while reducing the risk exposure of its employees. However, though some employees are under work from home arrangement, the cooperative still gave their salaries in full with an additional rice allowance. Those who report physically for work were given hazard pay in addition to their regular salary.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace to its employees. To ensure this, the cooperative implemented proper safety precautions in the Office. The cooperative is currently observing the below preventive measures to wit:
- Adhering to the ECQ and GCQ guidelines for the safety and security of all employees, officers, members, clients and the community;
- Posting and imposing basic protective measures:
- Clean your hands often using soap or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a cloth face cover.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Limit social gatherings and time spent in crowded places.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even at home.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Routine Environmental Cleaning- Disinfection of workplaces;
- Enforcing skeletal workforce limited to FRONTLINERS during the ECQ/GCQ;
- Imposing of “NO MASK, NO ENTRY” policy in the workplace; and
- Monitoring of body temperature and hand sanitizing before entry in the workplace.
The spread of COVID-19 affected all walks of life and with a total of 10,600 members, the cooperative cannot help all of them. Knowing that the coop has limited resources, SCPNVMPC prioritized helping its most vulnerable members by distributing rice as support to their day-to-day living.
The cooperative also acknowledged the contributions of front liners in its Local Government Unit by providing purified waters and sanitary kits like face masks, gloves, alcohol and other sanitary materials to protect them against health or safety risks while performing their job.
In compliance with Republic Act No. 11469 otherwise known as “The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” and in order to further help its members, SCPNVMPC member’s loan principal and interest falling due within the ECQ/GCQ period were entitled to 30-day grace period without incurring interest, penalties, fees and other charges. The accrued interest for the 30-day on amortized loan will be paid in staggered basis. Loan interest and penalty condonation program was also extended until December 2020. In this way, members had no more difficulty in paying their loans. In addition, the cooperative was also able to grant emergency loan to all qualified members and it was able to facilitate the release of Interest on Share Capital and Patronage Refund to all its members, giving them additional money to support their living.
One thing is true across the world, every business is facing great challenges as our nation begins the path to recovery. In making strategic decisions, it is important to include in the recovery plan what needs to be done for the business, its people and the community. Recovery should be collective, working together toward a common goal: this is what St. Catherine Parish of Nueva Vizcaya believes to be true.