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House legislators file magna carta for BPO workers bill

THE House Makabayan Coalition has filed a measure aimed at ensuring the welfare of business process outsourcing (BPO) workers.

House Bill No. 8189, or the proposed BPO Workers Welfare & Protection Bill, seeks to “set standards for fair labor practices and extend additional benefits to BPO employees, including protection against job insecurity, a standard national entry-level wage (based on the family living wage), and the right to medical benefits upon employment,” Kabataan Party-list Representative Raoul Danniel A. Manuel said in a statement.

BPO workers currently do not enjoy security of tenure and are placed on “floating status” when clients pull out, “which means they are still employed with no pay for as long as six months,” according to Mr. Manuel.

He added that BPOs follow a “systematic attrition scheme” in which workers are “managed out” if unable to keep up with performance metrics.

BPO workers are also discouraged from joining unions and face harassment if they choose to participate.

Alongside Mr. Manuel, Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers’ Party-list Rep. France L. Castro and Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas were listed as authors of the bill.

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) called for the immediate passage of the bill.

In a statement, BIEN said BPO employees suffer from unstable working conditions, “race-to-the-bottom” wages, lack of security of tenure, threats to the exercise of workers’ rights, health and safety risks and hazards, and other exploitative and oppressive practices.

BPOs have “kept the economy afloat” during the pandemic lockdowns, BIEN said. “Despite our sacrifices, we’ve been exposed to oppressive, exploitative, and inhumane work conditions,” it added.

BIEN also called on the government to support improved wages, safe working conditions, and freedom of association in the industry.

The Philippines has the second largest BPO industry in the world, generating estimated revenue of $33 billion in 2022 from a workforce of 1.6 million, according to BIEN. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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