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Labor group: Shutdown of BPO firm in Cebu leaves at least 600 workers jobless

More than 600 workers were left without jobs, salaries and benefits after their non-voice call center in Cebu City shut down operations allegedly without due notice, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said Thursday.   The workers’ group said Direct Access Center in Asiatown IT closed operations July 30 allegedly due to failing profits. Dennis Derige of PM-Cebu told GMA News Online that Direct Access violated labor laws because it failed to notify their workers 30 days before the closure, as required by the country’s labor laws.   Derige added that the Cebu-based call center also violated labor practices due to failure to provide the laid-off workers with their July salaries, benefits and allowances amounting to P6.4 million.   “Biglang nagpull-out yung call center. Walang pera para sa mga manggagawa. Wala man lang capital deposits na pwedeng mahabol ng mga manggagawa,” Derige said in a phone interview.   “Everybody was caught by surprise (when it closed). It was not under the legal requirement of closure. There was something that they did not comply,” said Jun Sa-a, executive director of Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology.   There may be some hope for the former workers of Direct Access.   PM’s Deriga said the displaced workers will have a teleconference this Saturday with Revocalized – a call center based in Utah which owns Direct Access – to resolve the issue.   Sa-a said four voice-operated call center companies based in Cebu City were interested in hiring the displaced workers, but he declined to identify these companies.   The displaced workers might need additional training since their work in Direct Access only involves operating an answering machine and not taking calls, the IT director noted.   In case these workers might not qualify for these call centers, Gigi Virata of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines said they are willing to enroll the workers under the scholarship voucher program of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.   “We have support from government. We can ask the displaced employees to undergo training (under the program),” Virata told GMA News Online in a separate phone interview.   Partido ng Manggagawa said it will file before the Cebu regional trial court tomorrow charges of estafa and breach of contract against Direct Access. — ELR, GMA News