“We have exhausted all efforts to resolve our issues through constructive means and social dialogue.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Workers of the so-called sunshine industry have finally stepped out of the dark cloud of unjust labor practices and job insecurity as they announced today an impending strike – a historic and a first of its kind in the Business Processing Outsourcing industry in the country.
In a press conference in Quezon City, the 1,500-strong union of the Unified Employees of Alorica call center agents in West Contact Services said that workers have been suffering from “illegal dismissals, systematic attrition through company policies and other labor standard violations.”
“The impending strike in Alorica proves how bad the situation is, but it also proves that BPO workers will not remain mum but will act to change the situation themselves,” said Rico Hababag, secretary general of BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN).
The union has already filed a notice of strike before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board on Sept. 7.
One of the Alorica workers and union president, Sarah Prestoza said there is a “prevailing hostile environment for unions in the BPO industry.”
Among the issues they have raised is the refusal of Alorica to recognize their union. as it questioned the the management’s recent attendance policy, where absences and tardiness were counted under an eight-point system. Upon reaching the said limit, workers are automatically terminated, without the benefit of an administrative hearing.
To this day, Alorica refuses to recognize the workers’ union, saying that they will address the concerns of the employees individually.
Prestoza said they have brought this to the attention of the Labor department but their grievance remained unanswered.
“We have exhausted all efforts to resolve our issues through constructive means and social dialogue. We humbly sought their attention numerous times but they have turned their back on us every step of the way. They stubbornly refused to sit down and talk while they continue their illegal and unjust termination of our members and co-workers along with their pursuit of cancellation of or union registration,” Prestoza added.
During the press conference, Alorica workers called for public support.
UNI Global Union, an affiliation of over 20 million workers from 150 countries, expressed their solidarity with the union members of Alorica and called on its management “to end its efforts to break the workers’ union.”