Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Call center workers demand reforms in BPO industry

Press Release
January 15, 2014
Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW)

Amidst the closure of a BPO company in Cebu City, an association of call center workers today demanded reforms in the industry to protect labor rights. Rosie Hong of 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 operating a call center company are so relaxed.”

Last Monday some one hundred employees of Leadamorphosis picketed their office building in downtown Cebu in protest at illegal closure and non-payment of salaries. Workers then trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) to file cases against management.

Tomorrow ICCAW will attend an industrial tripartite council meeting together with representatives of the DOLE and BPO employers to demand a swift resolution to the Leadamorphosis labor dispute.

Hong averred “ICCAW is in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Leadamorphosis. We are enraged that a call center company closes down then runs away from its obligations. We attribute this problem due to lack of strong state regulation in BPO industry. For a start, we demand that BPO companies be required to post cash bonds equivalent to one month of salaries and benefits of its total workforce.

The bond requirement was proposed but was not enacted at the height of the hasty shutdown of another the Cebu City-based BPO company called Direct Access that left some 600 employees with unpaid wages, commissions, overtime pay and separation benefits.

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 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. ICCAW 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,” Hong 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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