Criminal raps vs. UEA BIEN leaders dismissed

Makati Prosecutor’s Office dismissed charges of Alarms and Scandal and Malicious Mischief filed by Alorica Teleservices Inc. (ATI) versus 12 individuals including leaders of the Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) and the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) on grounds of insufficiency of evidence.

In a joint resolution signed by Makati City Senior Assistant Prosecutor, Kareen T. Tacorda-Evangelista, approved by Deputy City Prosecutor Josefa D. Laurente, the charge of Alarms and Scandal was dismissed citing that “the mere holding of a picket/rally is not among the Alarms and Scandal contemplated under the law.” The charge of Malicious Mischief was also dismissed for insufficiency of evidence as the persons who committed the spray painting were unidentified by the complainant and were not among the named respondents. The decision further cited that “the complainant’s allegation of conspiracy [by the respondents to commit malicious mischief] is based merely on conjecture.”

BIEN President Mylene Cabalona noted that the decision is a welcome development as these charges arose from an ongoing labor dispute between UEA and Alorica. “The picket protest conducted last September was simply an exercise of our right. The charges filed by ATI were meant to harass and undermine the fight of UEA and Alorica workers against union busting, unjust termination and unfair policies. The decision to dismiss these false charges vindicates our cause,” Cabalona averred.

The group added that it is not uncommon that companies file false charges against unionists to dissuade them from organizing. “Thus, this positive news should encourage us, particularly BPO workers, to persist in organizing unions despite the difficulties and setbacks. Only by coming together and reclaiming our right to unionize can we effectively combat unfair labor practices and policies which have proliferated in the BPO industry,” Cabalona said.

The UEA filed a Notice of Strike last September 7, 2018 on grounds of union busting. At the height of the negotiations, several protest actions were held and the Alorica management retaliated by filing false charges against UEA leaders and BIEN. To date, charges of online libel and grave slander filed by Alorica’s Human Resource Manager against UEA grievance officer, Alfredo Sobrino is still pending resolution.#

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BPO workers group decries disqualification of Manggagawa Partylist

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) decried the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)’s disqualification of Manggagawa Partylist (MPL) saying it “is an insult to the partylist system” and “deprives workers of genuine representation in the country’s parliament.”

Rico Hababag, BIEN Secretary General and National Treasurer of Manggagawa Partylist said, “The disqualification of the MPL is an insult to the partylist system. Whereas many partylist groups are known to misrepresent the marginalized as they are controlled by political families to forward their interests and keep their power, the COMELEC has disqualified Manggagawa Partylist, which undoubtedly is comprised of independent and progressive organizations of workers across the country. By doing so, the COMELEC effectively deprives workers of genuine representation in the country’s parliament.”

From Manggagawa Partylist Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/ManggagawaPL/

MPL was reportedly disqualified for failing to prove that it has no funds coming from foreign or private entities. It has recently filed a TRO to the Supreme Court.

Hababag averred that the reason for disqualification is simply baseless. “Despite meager wages and increasing cost of living, the sectors under MPL comprised of drivers, workers, migrant Filipino workers, call center agents, still managed to come up with financial support in order to raise funds for their partylist. The basis for disqualification is lame and is indicative of an ongoing crackdown on progressive organizations including partylists groups.”

Hababag urged the public to support MPL’s bid for Congress and defend workers right to be represented. “Filipino workers’ misery aggravates day after day as the value of real wages goes down because of rising prices and TRAIN law. There is still rampant contractualization and intensifying violent attacks on unionists. Thus, it becomes imperative for workers to be able to represent themselves and push for progressive reforms that will genuinely address these issues.”#

On the first year of the NCCC mall fire, groups call for criminal liability for workplace deaths

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) together with Institute for Occupational Health, Safety and Development (IOHSAD) and the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA) held a candle lighting activity last Wednesday, Dec. 26 in commemoration of the first year of the NCCC mall fire in Davao City that killed a total of 39 workers, 37 of whom are workers of the BPO company, Survey Sampling International (SSI).

The candle lighting was held in Liwasang Bonifacio inside the camp out of Sumifru workers. The groups called for justice and criminal liability for violators of OSH standards especially when it results in deaths of workers.

“We continue to grieve the tragic death of our fellow call center workers, one year after the tragedy in NCCC mall in Davao City. We are one with their families in their fight for justice and accountability. It also reminds us how deadly workplaces can be even in the BPO industry,” Sarah Presteza of the Unified Employees of Alorica and BIEN said in the program. Continue reading “On the first year of the NCCC mall fire, groups call for criminal liability for workplace deaths”