The electrical linemen and meter readers in the power sector are being pushed for prioritization in the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program given the very high risk of exposure they have in carrying out their jobs.
The proposal was put forward by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), as he emphasized the role of these workers in ensuring undisrupted power supply for consumers as the country survives the distressing impact of the niggling pandemic.
In the franchise area of Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distribution firm which serves over 7.0 million customers, it was emphasized that it has 756 meter readers and 7,306 line personnel within its charge.
In the league of the electric cooperatives, the aggregate number of meter readers they have been deploying sums up to 2,420; while their line men personnel had been estimated at 9,680.
For the meter readers, in particular, even during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) re-imposition in the last two weeks and despite the Covid-19 infection cases rising at their highest levels, they were still deployed in the homes, buildings or establishments of consumers to do actual reading of the meters — so a chaotic ‘estimated billing arrangement’ can be avoided this time.
Gatchalian primarily stated that “just like the other non-medical frontliners, linemen and meter readers who do house-to-house work also put their lives on the line by getting themselves exposed to those who could be possibly be infected by the coronavirus.”
It is within that premise then that he is appealing to the IATF “to consider their prioritization ahead of the mass vaccination” being carried out by the State to stem further spread of Covid-19 infections.
The lawmaker opined that “their inclusion in the priority list is essential as they attend to the concerns of every household.”
For the linemen, he noted that they take on the crucial role of installing lines, undertaking maintenance, repair works and fixing other technical problems “even under circumstances where strict health protocols are being enforced.”
Gatchalian reiterated “these linemen and meter readers do field work and put themselves in harm’s way because they need to continue to provide for their respective families as well.”
And given the highly probable health perils they are being subjected to in fervently performing their tasks, the lawmaker pointed out that “they too can be considered as essential workers as their line of work ensures the unimpeded delivery of services of power facilities.”