Press Release
July 6, 2013


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed Senate Bill No. 57, or the "Magna Carta for Call Center Workers Act", aiming to protect the interests and welfare of the workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

The bill promotes low attrition rates for the industry and attracts skilled workers to strengthen the local BPO industry, which is expected to generate up to $16 billion and provide 720,000 jobs this year.

"Once touted as a sunshine industry, the country's BPO industry has the distinction of both contributing to economic growth and sustaining it through the services it offers. It makes perfect sense that Congress should protect this industry," Santiago said.

Philippine BPO revenues reportedly rose steadily since 2009. Last year alone, BPO companies were said to have raked in $13.5 billion in revenues--22 percent higher than 2011.

The Magna Carta enforces the rights of call center employees to, among others, organize and join labor organizations; a safe and healthy working environment; and the right to stay in their employer's premises until daybreak for night shift employees to ensure their safety.

As basis for her bill, Santiago cited ILO studies that showed the perils of working in call centers, particularly those working the night shift.

The study found that 42.6 percent of BPO employees in the Philippines work the night shift. About 47.7 percent of Filipino BPO workers surveyed for the study suffered from insomnia, while 54 percent suffered from fatigue. They were also found to have other health problems eye strain; neck, shoulder and back pains; and voice problems.

"The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Health should pay special attention to BPO employees are vulnerable to health and safety hazards because of its peculiar nature and work schedule. Prolonged computer use and night shift schedules are legitimate health and safety concerns," Santiago said.

Santiago was alarmed at reports that the BPO industry discourages unions.

"The right to form labor unions in enshrined in the Constitution, and the country is party to various International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and treaties. We cannot truly boast of our BPO industry to the world if it does not comply to the most basic of international labor standards," the senator said.

The bill, originally filed in the Fifteenth Congress, also taps the DOLE to put up BPO Help Desks in their national and regional offices. These help desks will advise prospective and active BPO employees with terms and conditions in their contract, and inform them about filing complaints for violating the proposed Magna Carta.

News Latest News Feed