#CallCenterBPOTalk: Things that lies beneath higher salary

Credits to Ace Aguirre via Facebook

Credits to Ace Aguirre via Facebook

Earlier this morning, I saw this photo with caption written by Ace Aguirre on Facebook. Whether you guys believe it or not, his post is an eye-opener.

I already worked for 10 years. Salary was growing since year one, however cost of living grew as well and most of the time higher than my annual increase (be it merit, promotion or transfer to another company).

This illustration is an eye-opener. Most of the time, we look at salary as it is and fail to consider the cost of going to work (fare, food, vitamins, coffee to keep you awake, etc.). For most businessmen, this is overhead cost.

I computed mine before, sad but true, I can relate to this. This is the reason why I see to it that I always have other sources of income. Other sources where I am paid my real worth.

Figures don’t lie. Compute yours.

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A union in a Philippine Call Center/BPO Industry: WOW, FINALLY!

image courtesy of PinoyWeekly

Humigit-kumulang 70 empleyado mula sa industriya ng call centers o business process outsourcing (BPO) ang nagtipon sa Makati Medical Auditorium nitong Marso 28 para itatag ang pinakaunang unyon sa naturang industriya.

Sinuportahan ang hakbang na ito ng halos 800 empleyado mula sa West Contact Services, Inc., isang kompanyang BPO na binili ng isa pang malaking kompanya na Alorica. Nanganganib na mawalan ng trabaho ang libu-libong empleyado ng West dahil sa naturang takeover.

Pinangalanang Unified Employees of West Contact Services, Inc. (UEWCSI) ang naturang unyon.

“Layunin ng UEWCSI na bigyan ng nagkakaisang-tinig at lakas ang mga manggagawa sa industriya ng BPOs sa lahat ng panig ng bansa. Mula sa ating sama-samang pagkilos upang pigilan ang samu’t-saring iskema ng ating mga employers para bawiin ang mga karampatang benepisyo at makatarungang sahod ang nagudyok sa ating pagtatayo ng unyon,” bungad ni Leo Lanuzo ng UEWCSI-Mandaluyong.

Naging susi sa pagbubuo ng unyong ito ang ambag ng BPO Industry Employees’ Network (BIEN) Philippines. Ito ang asosasyon ng mga manggagawa ng BPO na mula sa 47 pinakamalalaking kompanyang BPO mula Baguio, Pampanga, Cebu, Bacolod, at Iloilo. Sa Metro Manila, may mga miyembro ito sa Alabang, Makati, Bonifacio Global, Mandaluyong, Ortigas at Quezon City.

“Taliwas sa inaakala ng marami na maalwan ang kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa call centers dahil malaki ang kanilang sahod, marami pa rin sa kanila ang inaalisan ng mga benepisyo at walang katiyakan sa trabaho. Sa aming pagsisiyasat, marami sa ating mga kasamahan mula sa Tacloban ang tumatanggap lang ng P4,000 kada buwan at marami sa ating mga kasamahan ang tinanggalan ng kanilang incentives sa kabila ng halos isa hanggang dekadang pagsisilbi sa kompanya,” paliwanag ni Ian Porquia ng Automated Data Processing (ADP) at presidente ng BIEN Philippines.

Nagbigay-pugay at nakiisa sa makasaysayang pagtitipon at pagbubuo ng UEWCSI ang All Workers’ Unity (AWU), networkng mga manggagawa, empleyado mula sa pribado at pampublikong sektor tulad ng mga guro at nars, empleyado ng bangko, propseyunal, kabataan at maralitang tagalungsod.

“Tinitiyak namin na ang inyong laban ay kaisa ng ipinaglalaban ng AWU upang isulong ang national minimum wage sa halagang P16,000 kada buwan at ang pagbasura sa malawakang kontraktuwalisasyon sa ating bayan,” sabi ni Rea Alegre, tagapagsalita ng AWU.

Matapos ang mga talakayan kaugnay ng kalagayan at kahalagahan ng unyonismo sa mga manggagawa at empleyado sa call centers, sinundan ito ng masiglang paglahok ng mga kasapi sa eleksiyon para sa mga pamunuan ng UEWCSI.

Tinanghal si Francis Ugay mula sa UEWCSI-Makati bilang presidente ng UEWCSI.

“Inspirasyon ang naganap ngayon sa ating asembleya. Kahanga-hangang ating gampanan ang mga tungkulin na pangunahan ang pagdadala ng makatarungang paglaban para sa kagalingan at karapatan ng mga manggagawa sa industriya ng BPO. Napapanahon lang na panghawakan ang ating kolektibong igiit at ipaglaban ang ating mga karapatan bilang manggagawa sa industriyang ito,” sabi pa ni Ugay.

Sinabi rin niya na makasaysayan ang pagtatag ng unang unyon sa isang “large-scale” na kompanyang BPO.

“Naitakda sa kasaysayan ang ating mga pagsisikap at magmamarka ito upang maging pamantayan ng mga iba pang unyon sa darating na panahon na magpapalakas sa kolektibong lakas ng mga manggagawa sa loob at labas ng bansa,” pagtatapos ni Ugay.

Remember the time Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed Magna Carta for Call Center workers back in 2010, then re-filed it again on 2013? She mentioned on the said bill that discouragement of unions is a problem in a Call Center industry and few years later, West Contact Services finally launched a union that is the first in the history of Call Center/BPO industry. While there will be definitely a threat from the client sectors that they might pull out their business in the Philippines, it should be a MUST that the rights of Call Center workers for the decent pay, decent benefits, and job security to be recognized because #realtalk, there are so many cases of illegal termination, payroll disputes, inadequate facilities for night workers, improper updating of employee records, death tolls during work (there are only few, but still, seeing a colleague dying at work is as saddening as hell), health impairments, and inadequate benefits getting rampant on most call centers. What is saddening is, when a big company is about to take-over another company, the possibility is yet another episode of mass lay-off, which will be another saddening part.

Call Center/BPO industry has created so many jobs for those who are having a hard time finding one, a comfort zone to those who have enjoyed working with it. While the said industry might have “destroyed” families (note: do not leave a blame onto Call Center/BPO alone, because illicit affairs is not only exclusive to Call Center/BPO industry), it gave another means to live for families and individuals.

Marami ngang binuhay ang Call Center/BPO industry pero kung marami rin lang male-lay-off na mga empleyado after the company buy-up, marami pa bang binuhay ang industriyang ito? It would be very saddening to see a certain agent earning his/her salary that is short from what he/she is expecting, and that benefits are being removed despite tenure.

Another problem for company buy-up is the removal of the perks that a certain company used to have before the buy-up. NCO is one of the best example for this. NCO used to have free meals until it got removed after APAC bought NCO, becoming one as EGS (Expert Global Solutions). Another example is Convergys Philippines. Convergys used to give retirement pay after a certain agent has made 5 years experience with Convergys. Retirement pay was lately removed after Convergys bought Stream Global Solutions. Lastly, after Concentrix acquired BPO/Call Center part of IBM, only pre-merger Concentrix employees enjoyed profit-sharing while the acquired employees from IBM never got to enjoy the same benefits as the older Concentrix employees.

I can’t help but feeling happy for those who established the very first union in this industry. I do not want to see my colleagues — even myself, of course — suffering from the inadequacies and mistreatment from their corresponding companies. They do not deserve being treated and compensated badly in the name of profits.