The labor partylist group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the government to require business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to put up a bond that will be used to pay workers claims as another call center illegally shuts down in Cebu. Eziconnect Philippines Inc. of Mandaue City closed abruptly last December 21 leaving its 30 employees jobless this Christmas season with unpaid salaries and separation pay.
“The irresponsible owners of Eziconnect have stolen christmas from their hardworking workers,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM chairman. Eziconnect is owned by Rodney Kafer.
According to the group Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW), which is assisting the Eziconnect workers together with PM, the alleged illegal closure is the fifth in the last four years that it has encountered.
A day after the closure, Eziconnect workers filed a complaint at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 7 office. A meeting was called by DOLE where the workers faced off with their Filipino manager. The Eziconnect workers are demanding one month of unpaid salaries, 13th month pay, separation benefits and financial assistance.
Gerard Escobido, one of the Eziconnect employees, said that “We had loyally worked for the company for the last several years and we feel betrayed that its owners, Kafer among others, would run away from its obligations to us.”
Magtubo called on the government to require BPO’s to put up a bond equivalent to two months salaries of all workers they intend to hire which will be used to defray wages, benefits and separation pay in case of sudden or illegal closure.
ICCAW and PM had earlier helped workers of call centers Direct Access, Cordia, Leadamorphosis and Blue Connect, all based in Cebu, in their fight for unpaid money claims. In all cases, workers had won awards or settlement.
When Direct Access illegally shutdown in 2012, its workers fought to get their separation pay and were also granted employment in a new call center. ICCAW was formed as a result of the pioneering fight of Direct Access workers. Meanwhile in the case of Leadamorphosis, workers won a P36 million award two years ago.
“The BPO is sunshine industry according to the government but it must do more to ensure workers rights and welfare are protected. Since it is a profitable dollar earning industry, employers must provide its workers with above average wages and benefits,” argued Magtubo.