Fire-hit Davao BPO wants to reopen in 2 months

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DAVAO CITY — Suspending the company whose 37 employees died in a fire just two days before Christmas here will result in about P97 million in lost salaries in the information technology-business process management industry, an industry association official said.

“That is why we have to find a way to enable SSI to resume operations,” said lawyer Samuel R. Matunog, president of the Information and Communication Technology Davao, on Monday in reference to the company’s impending suspension of operations.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority announced it was suspending the company after 37 of its employees died following the fire that razed the NCCC Mall on Dec. 23.

Mr. Matunog said his association is urging the government to lift the suspension order as the company, which started its operations in the city in 2008 as a market researcher using telephone interview services, has started looking for a new location for its operations so that its 500 employees could resume their jobs.

The company said it is planning to resume operations within the next two months in another site in the city.

The company announced that even with the employees not at work, they continue to receive their salaries. It is also “exploring (other) avenues to provide them with employment.”

It added that it has continued to “reimburse employees for personal effects that were destroyed in the fire. Additionally, Research Now SSI is [providing counseling for employees and victims’ families.”

As assistance to the victims’ families, it said it has raised about $115,000 in funds.

A Davao City councilor has proposed that companies use photo luminescent paints in hallways and fire exits as to help employees leave burning buildings.

Councilor Maria Belen S. Acosta, head of the public safety committee of city council, said in other countries glow-in-the-dark paint is in use “to guide persons to emergency exits and other possible means of egress especially when the power goes out.” — Carmelito Q. Francisco