Consequences will come when talks don’t go anywhere.
The Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) has announced that a strike is in the works in the wake of failed negotiations with Alorica’s management.
A first in Philippine BPO history, UEA’s strike threat is bolstered by its membership of 1,500 employees working under West Contact Services, Inc., a known subsidiary of Alorica Philippines, Inc.
The main cause of the strike is rooted to the refusal of Alorica’s management to recognize UAE as a formal union.
Alorica for its part, has declared that it is willing to discuss things with employees, but in a one-on-one basis.
Relocations, Tardiness, and Absences!
UEA has stressed on Alorica’s illegal termination of employees.
The union claims that the BPO implemented a policy where eight counts of tardiness and/or absences will result in termination without any administrative hearing.
Another concern of the union was the “Employment Development Program” of West Contact Services that required workers to be relocated to other facilities, and the lack of due process for reassignments.
Sarah M. Preztosa, UEA President
“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 their illegal and unjust termination of our members and co-workers along with their pursuit of cancellation of or union registration.”
In August, UEA filed for preventive mediation proceedings before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, followed by a notice of strike last September 7.
UEA has aligned with the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN), the UNI Global Union, and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
Victor Serafin P. Hababag, Secretary General, BIEN
“The impending strike in Alorica provides how bad the situation is, but it also proves that BPO workers will not remain mum but will act to change the situation themselves.”
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary, UNI Global Union
“The only way to create decent contact center jobs is through organizing workers into unions and collective bargaining… Alorica must stop all forms of union.”
Jerome Adonis, Secretary General, KMU
“When workers struggle together, success is imminent.”
What happens next will be very important in the years to come.
Any victory gained by UAE will, no matter how small, result in a precedent that may be viewed by other BPO employees as a working use case for labor-related demands.
On the obverse, the decision of a foreign investor to set up a BPO in the Philippines may be influenced by the capability of local labor to unionize and bring operations to a halt. A call center after all will not attract any clients if there is a threat of work stoppage.
In the end, one thing is clear. A balance needs to be attained, or else everyone loses.