Call center lays off 900 workers

Published by rudy Date posted on November 20, 2008

by Mayen Jaymalin
from The Philippine Star

In what could be the start of a looming mass displacement of workers due to the financial crisis, about 900 workers at a business process outsourcing (BPO) company were laid off from their jobs.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the country’s largest labor group, reported yesterday that Advanced Contact Solutions Inc. (ACS) retrenched one-fifth of its total workforce after losing a major US-based client that filed for bankruptcy.

TUCP secretary-general and former senator Ernesto Herrera called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately provide alternative sources of livelihood for the 900 displaced call center agents.

“The DOLE should ensure that the retrenched staff are absorbed right away by other firms, so as to lessen the potential severance of family income,” Herrera said in a statement.

Despite the displacement of call center agents, Herrera expressed optimism that such a case was isolated and not indicative of more turbulent times ahead for the local BPO industry.

“This is an extreme and exceptional case involving the loss of a key client that became insolvent. Other BPO providers here continue to grow their operations and recruit more workers, although at a much slower pace,” he explained.

But he admitted that firms across all industries have now become more cautious in rolling out expansion plans because of the uncertainty created by the global economic slump.

But Herrera said he is counting on the stronger US dollar and the weaker peso to help BPO providers cope with the more challenging global economic conditions.

“Local BPO providers generate service revenues in dollars, but pay for their cost of operations here in pesos. Thus, the resurgent dollar makes it cheaper for them to cover operating expenses as well as capital spending here,” he added.

As this developed, the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) also urged the government to look into the reported mass retrenchment of workers in the Export Processing Zone.

The group said a legislative investigation is necessary so that appropriate measures and assistance can be immediately provided to displaced workers.

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