Sitel fires 1,000 employees in the Philippines
The newly formed Sitel Philippines Association of Rank and File (SPARK) Workers of Baguio City in the Philippines are currently faced with a struggle that could potentially leave 1,000 workers without a job as a result of the closure of several client accounts. As of late May, SPARK has been circulating a petition with a set of demands that include the transfer of employees to different accounts once the clients pull out in order to avoid worker dismissals and to ensure stable employment. Despite Sitel inaugurating its fourth site at the SM Baguio Cyberzone they insist on implementing a redeployment program where workers will have to reapply for jobs with the company.
Workers such as Sitel agent Vicente Toca III, who has been working for Sitel for 4 years, have been coerced into signing a waiver which stipulates that while the company finds different accounts to transfer employees like him, they will be placed on leave without pay. The “redeployment program” subjects competent and experienced workers such as Toca through a series of re- assessments and examinations that will displace thousands of workers like himself and demote employees to a newly hired status. This program will be used to deprive workers of their accrued seniority from former accounts and therefore from any pay raises and health benefits earned throughout their tenure at Sitel.
SPARK leaders such as Mr. Toca, who have made their concerns public in a press conference on June 21st, have been subsequently subjected to intimidation and harassment on behalf of Sitel management. Mr Toca was punished with a 12-day suspension without pay for expressing his concerns publicly.
Redeployment schemes such as the one being implemented by Sitel are commonly used in the Business Processes Outsourcing industry to strip workers from employment security and keep them perpetually on a “floating status”, which serves as a barrier for unionization. UNI Global Union condemns the union- busting tactics of Sitel and demands Sitel to abide by due diligence Principle 3 of the United Nations Global Compact which upholds worker’s freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Sitel prides itself for being a member of the UNGC yet refuses to provide proper employment with conditions that can provide decent work for Filipino workers. UNI Global Union stands in solidarity with SPARK workers in their struggle and demand Sitel abides by their commitment to respect workers’ right to bargain collectively and acquire decent forms of employment.