|Call center workers in an ICCAW press conference|
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is being called upon by the workers of Eziconnect Philippines to investigate the furtive removal of computers from their call center which had shutdown without due notice. They revealed that on December 24 several men took out six computers, a day after the DOLE made a site visit. Fifteen employees filed a complaint for illegal closure one day after Eziconnect suddenly shuttered on December 21.
Gerard Escubido, one of the 15 Eziconnect employees, exclaimed that “Instead of a Santa Claus bearing gifts on Christmas eve, here we have Ebenezer Scrooges stealing assets that can be used to defray out claims for unpaid wages and separation benefits. We have identified the perpetrators who removed the Eziconnect computers and we also have a suspect who masterminded it.”
“We call on Eziconnect owner Rodney Kafer to honor obligations to his workers who have loyally served the company for the past several years,” added Escubido. Kafer is a former Australian rugby player and Fox Sports commentator.
Dennis Derige, spokesperson of the Cebu chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM) which is assisting the Eziconnect employees, stated that “We are asking DOLE-7 for prompt and appropriate action. It seems Eziconnect did not just shutdown illegally but is also a runaway shop.”
Aside from half a month of salaries and separation pay, the Eziconnect workers are demanding financial assistance and damages.
Derige insisted on speedy response from the government as the illegal shutdown of Eziconnect was the fifth case in Metro Cebu that they have encountered in the last four years. He cited the earlier cases of Direct Access, Cordia, Leadamorphosis and Blue Connect in which a total of about one thousand workers were adversely affected by sudden closures.
“Through the help of PM partylist, the workers of the four call centers got favorable settlements or awards from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Although in the case of Leadamorphosis workers, they have yet to receive a cent of the P36 million NLRC decision because the owners are in the USA,” Derige elaborated.
The partylist group reiterated its request that government require BPO’s to put up a bond to compensate workers’ money claims in case of sudden or illegal closure. “Call centers should set aside two months’ worth of salaries of all workers they intend to hire which will be used to defray unpaid salaries, benefits and separation pay,” Derige explained.
January 2, 2016