It was early January 2019, when the news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) broke and threatened to spread across the globe. At the early stage of the pandemic, it provoked anxiety as people faced the uncertain effects of the virus in many aspects of their lives. To combat the spread of the virus in the Philippines, President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared national health emergency and putthe entire Luzon into Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) which limited the movement of people from place to place. With the declaration of ECQ, many businesses, including cooperatives, temporarily stopped their operation which lasted for two (2) months.
The labor sector was among the most affected by the ECQ. This included the EMI Employees Development Cooperative. 50% of its employees stopped to work during the implementation of ECQ because the work force of EDS Manufacturing, Inc. was also reduced to almost 60%.
To help the members and employees during the ECQ period, the Board of Directors of EMI EDC proactively laid down plan of actions and worked hard to address the urgent needs. The Board approved the release and distribution of financial assistance worth PhP500.00 to 3,434 regular members of the cooperative derived from Optional Fund and implementation of 3.5 months moratorium on payment on share capital, savings deposit, and loan accounts. The cooperative also provided supplies, cooked food, and grocery items to all boarders at the co-op’s owned boarding houses. And to ease their financial burden, the cooperative also granted free rentals from March to May 2020.
The cooperative acknowledged the importance of its human capital, being the most important asset. To help the employees during the ECQ period, the BOD approved the release of financial assistance to employees such as cash advance, cash assistance, and rice subsidy given weekly for the whole month of April 2020. The BOD also approved the granting of hazard pay from April 13 to May 2020 to 7-Eleven staff (Php 150.00/day), operation’s rank and file (Php 100.00/day), operation’s team leader and management (P 200.00/day), and granting of pro-rated 13th month given last May 2020. The cooperative also facilitated the application for financial assistance of 91 employees under Small Business Wage Subsidy through Social Security System wherein the 1st tranche amounting to P 8,000 each was released last April 2020 and 2nd tranche amounting to P 8,000.00 was released last May-June 2020. The cooperative also provided financial assistance worth P100.00/day for 14 days and rice benefits to those employees who underwent quarantine (infected or part of contact tracing). EMI EDC also provided free shuttle service to employees from April 13 – May 31, 2020.
Community service was never out of the heart of every cooperative and the EMI EDC always gives back its received blessings. Utilizing the cooperative’s Community Development Fund (CDF) and in adherence to the 7th cooperative principle “Concern for Community,” its BOD approved the utilization of CDF for the free meal of 400 EMI employees and sub-contractors who rendered overtime work last March 20, 2020. The officers also approved the release of PhP10,300.00 from the CDF to buy COVID-19 protection gears(face masks, alcohol, face shields) which were donated to the front liners at Anabu I-F checkpoint in Imus City. The co-op also provided food to on-duty Police Officers at checkpoints near the cooperative owned 7-Eleven store.
To ensure that members and employees of EMI EDC would not be infected with corona virus, the cooperative strictly implemented precautionary measures and observed the minimum health protocols prescribed by the government. The Board approved the implementation of flexible work arrangement during the pandemic and provided free shuttle service during the work schedule, including free meal. The cooperative provided free face masks and face shields to its employees as well.
The cooperative also set up clear barriers as one of the precautionary measures against corona virus and provided non-contact thermal scanner in the entrance for body temperature monitoring of EMI EDC employees. Health condition checklist for all employees is also being provided and closely monitored everyday.
Although the collections and releases of the cooperative were severely affected by the series of moratorium implemented during the ECQs, officers are still confident and positive that the cooperative will still gain net surplus for fiscal year 2020. The officers and management staff are optimistic that they can gradually bounce back and recover faster in the coming year from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic through the concerted efforts of the officers and employees and continuous participation of the members. The cooperative will remain strong and true to its mission to help its members and employees even at trying times. And the members of EMI EDC can be assured that their cooperative is a dependable wall amidst any crisis. Currently, the preparation of Business Continuity Plan is undertaken by the cooperative to help increase its organizational resilience and coping capacity to any hazards that may come along in the near future.
2020 might not be the best year for EMI EDC as per the net surplus-wise standards, but its bravery to move forward and to give back to its members and to the community is very commendable. The EMI EDC has proven its prowess under pressure and trials. (By: Mr. Ismael F. Fampula, CDS II – Cavite)