Trade union urges govt help for displaced BPO workers

Posted at 11/19/08 4:17 PM

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should look after the 900 workers recently laid off by a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said Wednesday in a statement.

TUCP secretary-general and former senator Ernesto Herrera said that with the help of industry groups, the DOLE should find ways to redeploy the displaced employees of Advanced Contact Solutions (ACS) to other BPO providers.

"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, adding that many BPO employees effectively support at least one household, and in some cases, up to two," he said.

TUCP said ACS recently dismissed 889 employees, or one-fifth of its work force. From January to September this year, the company had a net loss of P100 million on revenues of P1.48 billion, said the labor center.

TUCP said ACS blamed the loss on "declining business volumes due to the ongoing US sub-prime financial crisis as well as customer concerns regarding a major US client which recently emerged from bankruptcy."

As a former chairman of the Senate's labor, employment, and human resources development committee, Herrera stressed that the massive lay-off was not necessarily indicative of more turbulent times ahead for the local BPO industry.

"Other BPO providers here continue to grow their operations and recruit more workers, although at a much slower pace," he said.

Nonetheless, Herrera said that 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 said.

The labor center described ACS as operating six contact centers with 7,118 seats located in Makati City, Quezon City, Lipa City and Cabuyao, Laguna. The centers reportedly handle inbound calls and electronic mail from customers and provide outbound telemarketing services.

Erratum: The BPO company ACS was wrongly identified earlier as Affiliated Computer Services. It should be Advanced Contact Solutions. Our apologies -Eds.