Press Release
November 20, 2010


True to her word, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago filed Senate Bill No. 2604, also known as the "Magna Carta for Call Center Workers Act of 2010", to protect thousands of call center employees in the country.

Santiago last week said that the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry needed more legislative support as reports claimed that the Philippines was on its way to becoming the world's call center capital in the next few years.

"While the country's economy owes a lot from the BPO sector, there is a need to balance the legitimate business interests of BPO companies with the labor rights of its employees," Santiago said.

Her bill seeks to guarantee call center employees the following rights: the right to organize and join labor organizations; the right to a safe and healthy working environment; the right to at least a one hour continuous meal break in the middle of every eight hour shift; the right to privacy; safety for nightshift employees; and the right to be informed of the terms and conditions of their contract.

Santiago said she was concerned about reports that the local BPO industry discourages unions. She cited research conducted in various countries showing the importance of unions in the call center industry.

"The Constitution guarantees all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. BPO companies in the country are not exempt from this constitutional provision and should honor their employees' rights," Santiago said.

Santiago also emphasized the need for BPO companies to maintain a safe and healthy working environment, citing reports from both the International Labor Organization and the Department of Labor and Employment of call center agents' susceptibility to health and occupational hazards, particularly those who work the nightshift. Reports show that they suffer from problems like stress, sleep disorders, fatigue, eye strain, and voice problems.

"These measures protecting call center employees cultivate lower attrition rates and attract more job seekers to the BPO industry, making it stronger and more productive. It therefore is in the interest of the BPO companies themselves to protect their workers who are their most important resource," Santiago said.

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