Monday, February 25, 2013

Call center workers demand reforms in BPO industry



 Press Release
February 25, 2013
  
On the occasion of the anniversary of the February 1986 EDSA uprising, a newly formed association of call center workers today demanded reforms in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to protect labor rights. In a press conference in Cebu City, the Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW) declared that “We are for a stable BPO industry so that we can have regular jobs that provide decent salaries and benefits but this cannot happen if the requirements and criteria for opening a call center company are so relaxed.”

The first public activity of ICCAW was occasioned by its open support for employees of Cordia Philippines, a call center based in Cebu City’s Asiatown I.T. Park. Some 76 Cordia workers have already filed cases against their former employer at the National Labor Relations Commission for illegal closure, non-payment of salaries and non-remittance of their mandated benefits.

Many of ICCAW’s pioneers were workers of Direct Access, another call center which closed down and left its employees with unpaid wages and benefits. But after months of protests, lobbying and the support of the militant Partido ng Manggagawa, the Direct Access workers were able to secure their monetary claims.

Ruben Josol, ICCAW spokesperson, averred “ICCAW is coming out in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Cordia. We are enraged that a call center company closes down, runs away from its obligations but then easily opens up a new company of the same nature and with its former clients. Some employers have been held accountable but majority are running scot-free and with impunity. We attribute this problem due to lack of strong state regulation in BPO industry.”

“We want a BPO company to be a better place to work with but if the occupational health of employees are compromised this industry will instead be a time bomb just waiting to explode. We are also asking candidates running in the elections to make workers demands part of their platform. If our so-called democracy is not just all form but has some substance, then the demands of the majority of the people must be met by those seeking the mandate of the voters,” Josol added.

A priority agenda of ICCAW is stricter government regulation of the BPO industry. It is proposing guidelines on requirements to set up call centers must be put in place and strictly implemented. This will reduce fly by night centers that are not financially equipped to run the business and does not respect labor rights, according to the group.

“We aim to be a voice and advocate for call center and BPO workers so that the 600,000 employees in the industry who are entirely unorganized can enjoy protection,” Josol insisted.

ICCAW is also calling for industry-wide standards for wages, benefits and entitlements that must be well above the minimum mandated by law and commensurate to the profitable dollar-earning nature of the call center industry.

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