First workers strike looms in PH BPO industry

The Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) filed a notice of strike this morning, September 7, before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. Photo courtesy of BIEN.
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Union busting, harassment, and illegal dismissals continue in Alorica.

Amid intensified attacks on job security and union busting measures employed by Alorica and West Contact Services, Inc. management, the Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) filed a notice of strike this morning, September 7, before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

“The Alorica and West management has left us with no choice but to wage a strike. We have exhausted all efforts to resolve our issues through constructive means and social dialogue. We humbly sought their attention numerous times but they have turned their back on us every step of the way. They stubbornly refused to sit down and talk while they continue with their illegal and unjust termination of our members and co-workers along with their pursuit of cancellation of our union registration,” Sarah Preztoza, UEA President said.

In August, UEA has filed for preventive mediation proceedings before the NCMB on the last week of July with the union harassment and union busting schemes being implemented by Alorica and West management through the 8-point attendance system, so-called “employment development program”, the redeployment program, and no due process during administrative case hearing. After several rounds of mediation proceedings, the parties failed to come up with an agreement as the management is stern in its position to “not recognize” UEA and address employees concern “individually”.

“The Alorica management has repeatedly failed to address employees’ problems both individually and collectively. And this is precisely the reason why we tried to reach out to them many times. But their arrogance is characteristic, they would not even agree to putting up a Labor Management Council (LMC) despite the prodding of mediation officers. This only demonstrates that the management is not ready and not willing to resolve the problems raised by the employees. They want to exercise tyrannical management prerogative with no regard to the workers rights and welfare,” Preztoza added.

UEA has also sent a letter directly to the Alorica and West management to seek social dialogue concerning the dismissals of employees and pending transfer of site from Exportbank Makati to Mall of Asia in Pasay which could drive many employees to resign as the company refuses to provide relocation assistance and shuttle services.

Based on the union estimates, over 200 tenured employees have been either terminated or forced to resign largely because of these new company policies that were enforced undemocratically with no genuine consultation among the workers.

“We cannot allow this rampant and blatant violation of our rights to continue. We have devoted much of our skills, time and efforts serving the company but they relentlessly deprived us of our rights. We are ready to fight,” Prestoza said.

The union sought the support of other BPO workers and the Filipino people. “We seek the support of our co-workers in the BPO industry to rally behind the workers of Alorica. We know that we face the same plight and we are optimistic that with our unity, we can improve our working situatuon and reclaim our rights and worth as employees,” Prestoza said.

Meanwhile, the BPO Industry Employees Network Secretary General Rico Hababag summoned the Filipino public to support the impending strike, the first of its kind in the BPO industry. “The public especially BPO workers should closely monitor the moves of the whole BPO industry, especially under IBPAP and the Duterte government’s future action on this fight as it will have lasting consequences for the rights and welfare of over one million Filipinos who are serving BPO companies,” Hababag said.

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