Friday, August 14, 2015

BPO workers group challenges candidates on issues

Press Release
August 14, 2015
Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW)

A BPO workers group today challenged presidential candidates to commit to a platform of demands and issues of employees in the sector. The challenge came a day after news came out on an hour-long meeting that Mar Roxas had with some BPO workers in Cebu City.

“We hope that candidates Mar Roxas, Jojo Binay and Grace Poe, even if she had not yet announced formally, will seriously engage with BPO workers on their demands and not be content with shallow photo-ops. And the dialogue with BPO workers should lead to a firm commitment to concrete policy and executive actions, rather than end in vague promises that will be easily forgotten once the elections are over,” argued Rosie Hong, Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW) president.

ICCAW is one of only a few workers associations in the BPO industry. It was founded in Cebu in late 2012 as a result of the fight of workers of Direct Access, a call center that unceremoniously shutdown and left its 600 employees without jobs and with unpaid wages and benefits. ICCAW has since expanded nationwide with organizing groups in Metro Manila, Iloilo City and Bacolod. With a full-pledged chapter in Cebu, ICCAW sits as the labor representative in the Cebu City tripartite body on the ICT industry.

“A case in point is candidate Mar’s ‘charm offensive’ with BPO workers in Cebu City’s IT Park. He was very concrete in promising a ‘caravan’ of government offices for faster processing of work-related requirements but in contrast he was obviously ambiguous and non-committal on the issue of workers security of tenure,” Hong elaborated.

“Security of tenure is not contradictory to the volatile nature of outsourced accounts. Contracts with overseas clients may come and go but the BPO company remains so it cannot deny security of tenure to its employees whose skills are portable and usable to different accounts,” Hong insisted.

Among ICCAW’s platform is the demand for industry-wide standards for wages, benefits and entitlements that must be well above the minimum mandated by law and commensurate to profitable dollar-earning nature of the BPO industry. ICCAW seeks to be an industry-wide organization for employees in the call center and business process outsourcing sector, and be a voice for industry workers’ concerns, grievances, demands and interests.

Hong ended with “Instead of a charm offensive and photo-ops, we prefer to engage with candidates on a policy debate and issue discussions. For example, we are interested to hear if any of them believe that contractualization is good for the BPO sector and we are more than willing to discourse with them on such issues.”

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