BIEN lauds move to enact BPO employees’ welfare ordinance 

The BPO Industry Employees Network welcomes the Baguio City council’s resolution to enact a BPO employees’ welfare ordinance to boost efforts to protect BPO workers’ rights on July 31 during the city council hearing that investigated the reported displacement of some 1,000 workers in Sitel Philippines in Baguio City.

“Baguio City Council’s plan to put in place a BPO Employees Welfare Ordinance is definitely a welcome development for BPO workers in Baguio and also for BPO employees all over the country. We thank the Council of City of Baguio for taking time to look into the unjust practices of Sitel Philippines. We also laud the council’s decision to address the issue through a local legislation,” Cabalona said.

On July 31, the City Council of Baguio heard before its regular session the issue of security of tenure in relation to the campaign of Sitel Philippines Association of Rank and File (SPARK) Workers (Baguio), a affiliate of BIEN, that opposed Sitel management’s ‘redeployment scheme’ including the ‘floating status and no-work no pay scheme following the successive pulling out of accounts in the last three months. After two hours of questioning and deliberation, the Baguio city council moved to create and enact in the future a BPO employees welfare ordinance.

“This is an initial victory for the workers. We are hopeful that the planned ordinance, the first ever when realized, can strengthen BPO workers’ rights especially the right to security of tenure and right to organize unions both of which are being gravely being violated by BPO companies inside and outside of Baguio City,” Mylene Cabalona, BIEN spokesperson said.

The group explained that any effort that will institutionalize protection and promotion of workers’ rights in the BPO industry is very much needed especially now that the IT-BPO industry boasts of continuous growth employing more than a million Filipino workers.

“Truth is the boom in the BPO industry relies on flexible and cheap human resources. It is here in the BPO companies where we can see many forms of labor flexibilization: rotating night shifts and rest days, floating status, flexible break hours, ever-changing metrics or performance standards, multiple tasking with no additional pay among others. And BPO companies by virtue of a self-regulating industry have been allowed by the government to exploit flexible work in many ways to the point the working conditions have now become very precarious, oppressive and inhumane,” Cabalona added.

The group vowed to campaign and rally support to a pro-worker BPO employees welfare legislation in Baguio, in other cities with BPO-IT hubs as well as in the national level.#

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