By Leslie Ann Aquino
The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) has urged the government to increase protection of BPO workers’ rights especially the right to security of tenure.
The group issued the call alarmed over the statement of Asian Institute of Management (AIM) that 800,000 BPO employees will lose their jobs due to automation.
“This means affecting over 70 percent of the workers in the BPO industry. It will be really helpful to see the details [of AIM’s study] since figures from previous reports are 10 times lower which may be understating the intensity of automation’s impact on workers and workers’ rights,” Mylene Cabalona, BIEN National president, said in a statement.
“This should give impetus to the government to advance more policies and legislation that will protect BPO workers’ rights, most especially the right to security of tenure which is constantly undermined and violated by companies thru many industry practices like ‘floating while hiring’ and ‘systematic attrition’ of workers,” she added.
Cabalona said they are concerned that if the proper policies to address labor rights issues in the BPO industry are not addressed in the near future, the transition to automation will most likely exacerbate the attacks on BPO workers’ jobs and rights.
At present, the group said many practices in the BPO industry lead to unjust termination and forced resignation of workers.
The BIEN also emphasized that the burden of up-skilling and multi-skilling in order to become ‘employable’ come automation should not be passed on to the individual workers.
“Instead, the companies and government should make the transition just for the workers. This can done if measures are taken to ensure that workers will not lose their jobs in the course of gaining more skills and those who are ultimately displaced will be provided with social protection,” Cabalona said.
Since 2013, BIEN has been pushing for the passage of laws that will provide added promotion and protection of BPO workers’ rights and welfare.
In the last Congress, at least six bills on BPO workers’ rights were filed in the Lower House. However, the bills are still pending up to present.