BIEN to BPOs: Put employees’ health and safety in top priority during calamities

As Alert Level 4 still in effect after Taal Volcano erupted yesterday, ashfall continues to spread over Metro Manila and nearby provinces in Central Luzon. The strong sulfurous smell experienced by ashfall affected populations may cause risk to people’s health. Hence we remind BPO companies to put employees’ health and safety in top priority during calamities.

We are deeply alarmed to reports received by BIEN about companies located in hubs along Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road, requiring BPO employees to work despite health and safety risks. We reiterate that “business as usual” mode in times of calamities or natural disasters is inhumane.

We continue to remind BPO companies that employees should have zero liability in case of failure or refusal to work given the situation. Since hazardous eruption is imminent, we urge the government to reinforce Occupational Health and Safety laws to regulate BPO companies that require employees to work during calamities.

We urge BPO companies to suspend work to ensure employees’ health and safety, especially those working at hubs affected by volcanic ashfall. ###

Workers rights are human rights — BIEN

In commemoration of International Human Rights Day and celebration of Human Rights Week, BIEN presses the call that workers’ rights are human rights and that the  right to self-organization and trade unionism is integral to the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.

The group cited that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created on December 19, 1948 as a milestone document that sets out the human rights framework and principles of fundamental rights and freedoms that every human being is entitled to. Article 23 of UDHR states:

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

BIEN joins the global day of action for trade union rights in the Philippines organized by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The group also reiterates its call that exercising trade union rights is not a crime. Unionism is not terrorism. BIEN continues the call to drop all charges slapped against Mary Anne Krueger, BIEN organizer in Bacolod who was illegaly arrested in aid of faulty search warrant and on the basis of planted evidence. The criminalization and illegal arrests of trade unionists, such as the glaring case of Krueger, mirrors the heightening trade union repression in the country.

The defense of workers’ rights is closely connected to the principles of defending human rights and for the realization of the dignity of work. If the dignity of work is to be respected, therefore workers’ rights must be respected, the group averred.#

Upholding BPO employees’ rights is not a crime

Free Anne Krueger! Stop vilification vs. BIEN!

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) calls for the immediate release of Anne Krueger, our organizer in Bacolod City who is among the labor, peasant, women and other activists who were arrested en masse in Negros on October 31.

anne with bien
Mary Anne Krueger (rightmost) with BPO workers during the BPO Employees National Summit last April 15, 2018.

We have known Ms. Krueger for years and she is not a member of the New People’s Army or NPA. She is an effective BIEN coordinator, working among BPO employees who stand up for their rights to decent pay, secure employment status, and a healthy and safe workplace. She is a loving mother of six young kids, aside from being a community journalist for the newly-formed alternative media outfit Paghimutad.

Ms. Krueger is known to countless BPO employees, as she is a dedicated paralegal and organizer. She has accompanied numerous BPO workers in filing labor cases before the labor department and its agencies. She is a go-to person in Bacolod for BPO workers whenever they have grievances in their workplace. She helps BPO employees understand their rights and realize collective power thru organizing.

For us, her inclusion in the mass arrest could only bolster the claims of those arrested that the evidence being used against them were all planted. Anybody who has observed the country’s “war on drugs” will have no doubt that the country’s authorities are capable of such acts once they decide to go after a person. Continue reading “Upholding BPO employees’ rights is not a crime”