Occupational health risks likely to rise in the outsourcing industry

Mar. 23, 2009

Occupational health risks likely to rise in the outsourcing industry

Occupational health dangers in the outsourcing industry is likely to increase as the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) announced that companies may cut growth rates for next year because of the economic slowdown.

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (Eiler) deputy executive director Anna Leah Escresa-Colina revealed that some outsourcing companies have already retrenched employees. Those left undergo further health distress because they are forced to perform multitasking and additional unpaid work hours.

In 2008, Eiler conducted a research on call centers which focused on call center companies servicing the airline, railway, bus, cruise ship/ ferry industry and logistics, goods and transport industries. The research found out that the occupational health risks from graveyard shifts, long working hours, period of break time, very cool temperatures in work areas, and high work stress due to high quota are very serious and potentially life-threatening.

Most of the respondents experienced sleeping problems, eye strain, overall fatigue, headaches, chest and back pains, voice problems and mental stress. Other health hazards include stress from the job, unnatural work time, and irrational behavior of customers.

Despite such high occupational health risks in call centers, clinical services are found to be wanting especially during graveyard shifts, said Escresa-Colina. In 2007, a stress-induced death of a call center agent was reported in the media.

BPA/P also said that it is still possible to earn 13 billion US dollars revenue as indicated by the BPO Roadmap 2010.

But to be able to reach this revenue target, the right of BPO employees to organize will be effectively suppressed as only organized employees can comprehensively advance their concerns on health and safety, career paths and development, skills development, their social life, savings for their future and long-term occupation security, she said. The industry is virtually union-free because organizing in the sector is said to be covertly and overtly discouraged by the management.

Eiler also said that the Labor department (Dole) Advisory No. 2 series of 2009 or the Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements encourages establishments to impose forced leaves, overtime without pay, shift reduction, rotation, compressed work week and other flexible labor practices. This Dole memo undermines the rights of workers of other industries and will also gravely affect BPO employees. #

For reference:

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)


15 Anonas St., Unit D-24 Cellar Mansions

Barangay Quirino 3-A, Project 3, Quezon City,

Philippines 1102

Tel. No. +63 2 4660062

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