ONE of the biggest challenges for companies during this Covid-19 pandemic is maintaining their workers.
While many of today’s local businesses have slashed the number of employees, other industries particularly those in the logistics sector needed to hire local workers to continue their operations, even if they too are affected by the crisis.
Because of border controls since the government-imposed lockdown in March, Rodien Paca, chief executive officer and founder of several port manning and cargo solutions firms, such as Pilipinas Logistics Technologies Systems Inc., had to hire workers from another island just to get the cargoes across.
“We added close to 30 people. Cargoes can go through but not our people, so we needed to hire local workers there to continue our operations,” said Paca, adding that the pandemic has forced them to look into new ways of doing business notwithstanding the additional operational cost it would entail.
“Because people can’t travel anymore and we can’t import and export people, we became dependent on the local people (of that island) where we have operations,” he added.
Paca’s logistics business operates in 104 shipping ports across the country. The bulk of its business is moving construction materials all over the island. It also caters to the feed industry, whose demand did not slow down but its 24-hour delivery was cut short to eight hours due to curfew and border protocol.
Because of these restrictions, Paca also invested in seven new trucks, two of which were heavy equipment to speed up the delivery.
His company also invested in fiber connections to make sure that the seamless business operations remain uninterrupted. He said financial transactions are now mostly done online while client meetings are all done virtually.
“This is a challenging time for all industries,” said Paca, noting that while others cut back on payroll expenses by laying off workers, other businesses need to shell out more money if they want to remain in business.
“Multinational companies have different requirements. Others demand the use of N95, so that’s an additional cost for us,” he said. “This is on top of the working hours lost per day, the cost of constantly disinfecting the workplace and providing our employees the face masks, gloves, disinfectants, alcohols, and now the face shields.”
Paca said what pains him the most is seeing employees who are due for vacation but can’t can’t go home to their families.
“We are now in a totally different business environment,” he said. “Our industry is surviving and we are making a lot of changes.”
Paca, though, remains optimistic that things will be better in the coming months following the easing of community quarantine and the gradual reopening of the local economy. (KOC)