Call center workers urged to form unions
MANILA, Philippines—To protect their welfare as workers and to take advantage of the full benefits of their labor, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged young professionals particularly workers in the information technology sector to join or form unions.
“I encourage yuppies particularly those in call centers to join or create unions so they can have a voice in their work…,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) in a statement.
Through unions, Seno said workers can “negotiate a contract like fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement or separation pay, family-oriented policies such as paid sick leave and other benefits.”
Because call center workers handle delicate jobs, Seno said they must be compensated substantially.
“Workers in the call center industry are also considered one of the most vulnerable workers because they work at night when their bodies are supposed to sleep,” he said.
“Customer service representatives, for example, interact mostly with stressful customers. So they should get more in terms of wages and benefits because of the precarious characteristics of their work. They can maximize what they can get through a union. And we have union organizers who will assist them in every step of the way,” he added.
According to him, “gone are the days when unions are perceived obstructionist.”
“Management today should look at forming unions as a way to promote productive workforce that provides better services and products. They should treat unions as a way of meeting the needs of their workforce in this modern age of flexible and non-traditional work environments,” he said.
TUCP said there are 1.04 million BPO workers in the Philippines as of September 2014.
Bill filed in Congress
In 2013, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a Magna Carta for Call Center Workers.
The bill seeks to enforce the rights of call center workers to organize unions to have safe and healthy working environments given the long hours they spend at their work stations.
Santiago expressed alarm over reports that business process outsourcing (BPO) companies discouraged labor organizations.
She cited health and occupational safety issues in BPO, adding that the Philippines cannot truly boast about its BPO industry to the world if it does not comply with the most basic of international labor standards.
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