BY JOEL CAPULONG
BAGUIO CITY — The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) Baguio Chapter marked its one year struggle last May 9, 2018 for the advancement of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) workers in the city of Baguio.
Last year is considered a remarkable year in the history of BPO workers in the city of Baguio and the struggle of the working class in general. On May 9, 2017, some call center agents gathered and decisively made a resolution to end the oppressive system of the BPO companies in the city.
Among the issues that were discussed during the said gathering were contractualization, redeployment schemes, constructive dismissal, no work no pay policy while on a floating status, denial of vacation leave requests, oppressive metric system, working conditions, mandatory overtime and stagnant salaries.
The concerned rank and file workers of one of the biggest and oldest BPO companies operating in the city since the early 2000s worked hard to gather signatures and support from other coworkers to register their position.
Few days later three Lines of Business (LOB) or accounts of the said company announced their closure and many workers were put on floating status. The company forced the displaced workers to sign a waiver stating that they will not be paid while on the said status.
Bold and daring reaction
Due to the cruel decision of the management, the workers decisively conducted a press conference on June 21, 2017 denouncing management’s unfair decision. In an interview with BIEN Baguio Chapter, the group said it is clearly stated in the law that the companies are responsible to secure the tenure of their employees particularly the rank and file. If an LOB announces its closure, the company should immediately transfer the affected employees to another LOB with corresponding training with pay without further excuses.
The city council’s response
The issue of the BPO workers caught the attention of the city council after the said press conference. A public consultation was conducted on July 31, 2017 as part of the city council’s regular Monday session at the Baguio City Hall. As a result, a City Ordinance protecting the rights and welfare of the BPO workers was proposed by Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, Councilor Arthur Allad-iw and supported by the majority council members.
After a year of the worker’s sustained struggle and support from the local government leaders, international labor organizations and unions such as the E tū (union for SiTEL in New Zealand) and First Union of New Zealand, other BIEN chapters from the National Capital Region, Metro Cebu and Davao City; the BPO workers of Baguio are still facing workers’ rights violations. The workers particularly the members of BIEN are still being subjected to harassment and constructive dismissals. According to BIEN Baguio Chapter, the workers are still hoping for the final approval of the Proposed Ordinance to help the workers uplift their welfare despite the appeal of the BPO companies to withdraw the said proposal.
Meanwhile, as part of BIEN’s first year anniversary celebration and commitment to protect the environment for the betterment of the future generations, the group, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – CAR conducted a tree planting activity on June 23, 2018 in Loacan, Itogon, Benguet. In an interview with Vicente Toca III, BIEN Baguio Coordinator, the group is looking forward to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the DENR-CAR to conduct annual tree planting activities for three years.# nordis.net