Gov’t asked to enforce labor standards in BPO industryBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–A labor group on Thursday called on the government to strictly monitor and enforce labor standards in the business process outsourcing industry following the closure of a call center in Cebu City which left more than 600 workers jobless.
Direct Access Corp., a BPO firm at the Cebu IT Park mainly providing call center operations, filed a notice of temporary closure/shutdown last July 31, for three to six months due to financial losses brought by high cost of operation, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.
A total of 638 workers were affected by the company’s temporary closure/shutdown.
Renato Magtubo, national chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, said President Aquino applauded the BPO industry in his third State of the Nation Address over a week ago “but behind this so-called sunrise industry lurks storm clouds that batter workers’ working conditions.”
He said that “within an industry, which prides itself with above-standard systems, are substandard practices that are common in other businesses.”
Magtubo said the labor department and other concerned agencies “cannot be complacent that all is well for workers in the BPO industry.”
PM claimed it is assisting the displaced employees of Direct Access Corp. who, Magtubo said, were left with unpaid wages, benefits and un-remitted social security contributions.
Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, said that the scheduled teleconference Thursday between leaders of the Direct Access workers and the US-based owner had been postponed.
Derige also explained that no agreement was reached as of Wednesday during a mediation called by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, and a meeting with the Cebu tripartite industrial peace council.
“Direct Access workers welcome the offer of employment at other BPO companies even as they press for their demands with the different institutions that are intervening. They demand justice for workers, the payment of some 6.4 million pesos in wages and other emoluments, and the company’s culpability for violations of labor laws,” Derige said.
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that the DOLE Regional Office in Cebu has facilitated the conduct of a two-day special job fair exclusive for the displaced workers of Direct Access on Aug. 3 to 4.
To be offered during the special job fair will be call center agents positions, she added.
Baldoz also said that the regional office has already deployed a Quick Reaction Team to assist the company and the displaced workers.
A QRT is a DOLE strategy to monitor industry closures and retrenchment due to the adverse effects of business environment, such as globalization and economic crises, and to provide immediate and integrated package of assistance to displaced workers including their dependents.
Such an assistance program includes existing DOLE programs, including (1) the delivery of employment services such as job matching and referral, employment guidance and counseling, skills re-training and upgrading and livelihood and/or entrepreneurship development; (2) assistance to workers in obtaining their separation benefits and in making informed choices on re-employment options; and (3) emergency employment and other forms of subsidy to marginalized and less competitive displaced workers and their dependents including out-of-school, out-of-work youth.