BPO union to wage strike following failed negotiations

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BPO union, Unified Employees of Alorica, announces first-of-its-kind strike, calling for its company, West Contact Services, Inc. to recognize the union and to stop its unfair labor practices.

By Anna Gabriela A. Mogato

THE Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) announced that they will soon be waging a strike — the first of its kind in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry — following failed negotiations between the group and Alorica management.

The 1,500-member union employed under West Contact Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Alorica Philippines, Inc., has gained the support of local organization BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) and of UNI Global Union, a federation of international organizations representing trade unions.

The strike announcement came after Alorica management refused to recognize UEA’s unionization.

In a statement, UEA president Sarah M. Preztosa said that the company had been illegally terminating its employees, leaving them with no choice but to wage a strike.

“We cannot allow this rampant and blatant violation of our rights to continue,” she said. “We have devoted much of our skills, time and efforts serving the company but the relentless deprived us of our rights. We will fight for our job security. We are ready to fight.”

Last month, the union filed for preventive mediation proceedings before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board amid the union harassment and union busting schemes implemented by the company.

The union claimed that the management made use of an eight-point attendance system, wherein tardiness and absences are weighted equally and tallied, resulting in termination if the worker accumulates eight marks.

UEA also claimed that West Contact Services, Inc. made use of an “employment development program” wherein employees are relocated without due process.

BIEN Secretary General Victor Serafin P. Hababag in the statement said that the “illegal dismissals [and] systematic attrition” Alorica-West employees experience are rampant throughout the BPO industry.

“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,” he said.

In another statement, UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman said that they likewise stand with UEA in the matter.

“The only way to create decent contact center jobs is through organizing workers into unions and collective bargaining,” she said. “Alorica must stop all forms of union busting and recognize the workers’ union.”