Over 1.8 million people are employed in the Philippine Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry providing call centre and digital services to some of the biggest multinationals in the world. Despite earning the Philippines (and multinationals) billions workers in the sector don’t have a single union to protect their rights and ensure decent pay and conditions. Gruelling hours, harassment, impossible to meet targets and job insecurity are facts of life for most BPO workers. These challenges have been compounded by COVID-19 that has resulted in thousands of workers infected, deaths and tens of thousands of job losses.
BIEN (BPO Industry Employees Network) is the lone voice for workers in the sector, advocating for safe conditions, job security and the decent conditions BPO workers deserve. Supported by UnionAID this small group of mostly current or former BPO staff BIEN fearlessly organises BPO workers into local chapters, runs campaigns, educates on workers rights and provides paralegal support to those unjustly treated.
Following a tragic building fire in 2016 that killed 36 BPO workers, BIEN was part of an alliance that successfully campaigned for stricter health and safety laws and enforcement as well as compensation for families of the deceased. BIEN won improved job security law changes in the city of Bagiuo for BPO workers and throughout Covid-19 has exposed unsafe conditions forced upon workers by some of the world’s biggest companies.
UnionAID has partnered with BIEN for the next three years, to provide them with the resources they need to build a movement of BPO workers in the Philippines that has safe working conditions, secure and decent jobs and can exercise their right to freedom of association.