The Communications Workers of America (CWA) expresses its solidarity and condolences to the families of the 37 workers who perished in the December 23 fire in the Research Now SSI call center in Davao, Philippines.
We join the families and Filipino labor organizations in their demands for a rigorous and transparent investigation into any possible safety lapses that may have contributed to the loss of life. We call on the government agencies to hold Research Now SSI, and the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) where the call center is located, responsible for any failings that may be identified in the investigation.
CWA has historically condemned aggressive off-shoring of call center work by U.S. companies in pursuit of low-wage labor, tax incentives, and lax legal requirements. The Research Now SSI tragedy is the outcome of exploitation of a workforce living in poverty, forced by economic necessity to work in conditions that led to death.
No worker should go to work to die.
CWA represents about 700,000 working people in telecommunications, media and broadcast, airlines, public service and manufacturing.
This was the question raised by Mylene Cabalona, Spokesperson of the BPO Industry Employees Network, during the candle lighting activity held last December 25 as the group mourned the death of at least 37 employees of Survey Sampling International (SSI) after the NCCC Mall in Maa, Davao City burned to ashes on December 23. Continue reading “Justice for the 37 SSI workers – BIEN”→
The BPO Industry Employees Network mourns and grieves with the families and friends of the 37 victims of a fire that burned down NCCC mall in Maa Davao City, yesterday, 23 December. Most of the victims are employees of Survey Sampling International (SSI), a BPO company whose site is in the 4th floor of the said commercial establishment. The timing is doubly unfortunate as it happened during the holidays, when families are supposed to come together and celebrate. The pain of losing a loved one in such a tragic death is simple unimaginable.
Reports from mainstream media provided little detail of what actually transpired in the fire and how come 37 people were unable to evacuate if the building has indeed complied with fire safety precautions. Concerned individuals posted in social media alleged reports that the building had locked out fire exits, no fire drills and that the building was made of sub-standard materials. But the mere fact that scores of employees were trapped in a building during a fire already raises much suspicion to the BPO company’s compliance with occupational safety standards—such as early warning system and prompt evacuation as well as adequate and accessible emergency exits. Thus, BIEN calls for an immediate, independent and thorough investigation of the fire and the tragic death of our many colleagues.
Ultimately, we demand justice and accountability for this yet another tragedy that afflicted workers and their families. We have seen too many similar man-made disasters to our fellow workers in the Philippines alone—Kentex fire in 2015 and HTI fire earlier this 2017 to name a few. What happened in SSI in Davao only shows that even workers in the so-called “sunshine industry” are not free from fatal work hazards. Rather, this gloomy incident only brings attention to the government to look into every BPO company’s compliance with occupational health and safety standards. Justice must be served to the victims and those accountable must be penalized so as to avoid future workplace deaths.#