FFW-slideshow

Organizing BPO workers
12 Jan 2014
Written by The BusinessMirror Editorial
Posted by ffw.org.ph

 

THE Federation of Free Workers (FFW) has expressed support for Sen. Miriam Defensor- Santiago’s proposal to pass a “Magna Carta for Call-Center Workers” to allow them to organize unions and push for safe and healthy work conditions amid long hours spent at work.

“Several surveys and research in Europe showed that unions do matter in the call-center industry. It is in the very nature of call-center work where the protection of trade unions is very much called for,” Santiago said in her bill’s explanatory note.

We agree. In previous editorials, we mentioned the many problems faced by the business-process outsourcing (BPO) work force that need union intervention, particularly the lack of labor and welfare standards in the BPO industry, which contributes to its relatively high attrition rate.

Unfortunately, unionism is not strong in the local BPO industry. Indeed, it is virtually nonexistent.

FFW Chairman Sonny Matula said a lot of call-center workers fear forming unions because of possible backlashes, including the loss of their jobs.

We do remember that one of the ranking officers of the Business Process Association of the Philippines was once quoted as saying, “allowing workers to organize unions [in BPOs] would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The official later apologized and retracted her statement, but you immediately see the problem. It is quite hard to form a union and recruit members if there is such a hostile environment toward union organization.

The right to join unions and to bargain collectively are universally accepted principles, backed by the Philippine Constitution, the Labor Code of the Philippines and the International Labor Organization.

BPO companies are not above the law, and they should respect workers’ right to self-organization, or be forced to respect it by the Labor department and through measures like Santiago’s proposed magna carta.

Unions won’t succeed unless corporations and businesses can be forced not to interfere when workers try to organize.

Because of rampant joblessness and our economic situation, we understand that many people who are working feel lucky just to have a job and would not want to jeopardize it by joining a union. But under our laws, this shouldn’t be a dilemma to begin with.

 

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