This article first appeared on La Tercera on July 13, 2020.
The pandemic has meant that many companies have had to reinvent themselves to continue operating, adapting to teleworking, e-commerce, and digitalization. It has not been easy for anyone and has required collective and personal efforts. However, all these efforts have been overshadowed by the bad actions of a few.
This crisis has shown the worst side of some companies, which do not respect the rules and commit crimes to cheat the system and do what benefits them. And the scenario is propitious for these acts since it is in crisis when corruption increases as controls are relaxed and desperate measures are sought to survive or not to lose what has been gained.
And because of the actions of these few, the government should have announced a new regulation, which toughens the sanctions for those who fail to comply with quarantines and preventive measures during the pandemic, which includes companies, punishing employers who force their workers to work outside their homes during mandatory confinement.
It is incredible that it takes the modification of law for some to understand that their actions are, plain and simple, crimes, such as the fact of obtaining false permits or the change of business line before the Internal Revenue Service (SII), to sell non-existent essential products. This is not only ethically reprehensible, but it is also a crime to provide false information to the SII, to the Carabineros, in addition to violating health regulations.
A few weeks ago we learned about the case of a kindergarten in Maipú, where four children, children of employees of the company Fruna, were found working in full quarantine and with a false certificate issued by the company itself. In this case, not only the children were exposed, but also their mothers, who were forced to work and, therefore, to leave their children in the kindergarten.
We also learned about the case of Rollux, a company dedicated to the manufacture of curtains, with more than 13 years of experience in the national market, which overnight and in the middle of the pandemic, decided to change its business line to pharmaceuticals, which they could not prove when they were caught.
And what can we say about Fashion’s Park, which after an anonymous complaint, we learned that it used the security company’s line of business, in addition to misusing collective permits, forcing administrative staff to attend the offices. The most incredible thing about this company, which has nothing to do with security, is that it boasts its values on its website, highlighting among them integrity and respect, which would be part of the guide for the behavior of its employees. But to demand that its employees abide by certain values, it is necessary to set an example.
Cases like these make the public opinion to put all companies in the same bag and, at the same time, spoil the trust, making that procedures that were expeditious just to support the companies, such as the change of the line of business before the SII, become cumbersome, stricter and difficult to access, paying the just for the sinners.
For this reason, it is expected that the punishments for those who have broken the law and have put their workers at risk are exemplary and that the business role is at the height of the circumstances, condemning these facts.
We are living in the midst of one of the greatest crises in history and everyone can contribute to their side. Let us not wait for laws to come out to act in an ethically correct manner, because all our actions, no matter how small they may seem, have consequences.
My special recognition goes to the essential companies that have ensured that nothing has been lacking in these four months of confinement, despite the initial panic we had in moments of uncertainty.
By Susana Sierra