Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Workers complain of BPO sweatshop

Press Release
May 29, 2013

A group of call center workers are complaining of underpayment of wages and non-payment of benefits against their former employer which they have lambasted as a “BPO sweatshop.” Six ex-employees of the Ortigas-based E-Global International Communications, Inc. filed cases at the National Labor Relations Commission last May 20 for violations of labor standards including illegal dismissal.

Jiaffy Domingo, one of the call center agents, declared that “We were paid only P200 a day for the five months that we worked at E-Global. Further we received no overtime pay, holiday pay, rest day premium, service incentive leave, 13th month pay and cost of living allowance.” The statutory minimum wage in Metro Manila stands at P456. Aside from Domingo, the complainants are Janice Bicera, Rissa Joy R. Ricafrente, Maricel Gatoc, Bryan Dango and Walter Dango. The last three worked for around two months in the company before all six were illegally dismissed in February this year.

Today several of the E-Global workers are filing cases at the Social Security System with the assistance of the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM). PM national chair Renato Magtubo averred that “E-Global is evidently an e-sweatshop no different from the abusive conditions in an illicit garments subcontractor, for example. A sunshine industry and dollar earning sector like the BPO should have no room for sweatshops. It behooves the Department of Labor and Employment to strictly regulate this fast growing industry in the interest of more than 600,000 workers since E-Global is not the only BPO sweatshop around.”

According to its website (, E-Global’s President and CEO is Eugene C. Go and is a subsidiary of the American TESOL Institute in the Philippines, “operating and serving its call center requirements and providing the highest quality BPO provisions.” Its corporate address is the prestigious Suite 701, Pacific Center Building, No. 33 San Miguel Aveneue, Ortigas Business Center in Pasig City.

In Cebu, PM had helped workers who have fallen victim to illegal terminations by similar BPO sweatshops and fly-by-night call centers. In July last year, some 600 employees were laid off overnight when their employer, the Cebu City IT Park Asiatown-based Direct Access, abruptly shutdown. After a few months of protests, the Direct Access workers got their money claims and separation pay.

As a result of the labor disputes in Cebu, the Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW) was formed as an organization for mutual aid and protection and to represent members regarding specific grievances and general concerns.

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