Friday, March 7, 2014

VAW victim calls for respect for women’s rights in BPO’s

Press Release
March 7, 2014
Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW)

On the eve of International Women’s Day (IWD), a VAW (violence against women) victim is calling on the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry for respect for women’s rights. Cheryl Anne Francia, a call center agent, was dismissed from her previous job due to absence from work after suffering physical abuse from her husband. “BPO’s should be a modern workplace not because of the hi-tech gadgets but because of regard for working women’s dignity,” she said.

Francia was on her way to work last 24 August 2013 when she had an argument with her spouse and was beaten. After recovering from the abuse, she reported for work after five days but was unceremoniously retrenched despite her appeals. She has since then filed a case against her former BPO employer for illegal dismissal and moved on to another call center company.

“I commemorate women’s day by coming out to appeal to my sisters that we should not suffer in silence but stand up for our rights,” Francia averred. She is optimistic of a favorable decision in her illegal dismissal case at the National Labor Relations Commission. Francia also has a pending VAW case against her husband at the regional trial court level. At 30 years old, she has worked at four call center companies in the last four years.

Francia was assisted in her labor and criminal cases by the Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW), an industry-wide organization for the rights and welfare of BPO employees. Rosie Hong, a Cebu-based call center agent and spokesperson for ICCAW, asserted that “If BPO’s are truly empowered workplaces then concern for labor and women’s welfare should be a priority. Sadly reality still falls short of the ideal as Francia’s case reveals.” Hong also has a pending illegal dismissal case against a call center company in Cebu.

A National Statistics Office census in 2010 found that females comprise 55% of BPO workers. Hong, a single mother, cites from experience that while sleep disorders are common in BPO workers in general, women workers are especially burdened because they have household and parenting duties during daytime.

ICCAW is celebrating IWD with a round table discussion on the afternoon of March 29 at the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP Solair). The UP Solair dean and a female professor will interact with a group of BPO workers. “I invite fellow BPO workers to join us at the UP Solair forum and let us inspire change in our workplaces, homes and society,” Francia stated as she echoed the theme of this year’s IWD.

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