Major call centre under scrutiny for Covid-19 safety

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

PHILIPPINES: A Paris-based call-centre business is facing scrutiny over allegedly poor working conditions in its Philippines operations. These are said to have been responsible for thousands of Covid-19 cases and even deaths amongst employees.

Teleperformance is the world’s largest call center operator, and has recently been called out by the France's representatives (the National Contact Point, or NCP) to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They claim that the company's operations in the Philippines have failed to protect its workers’ health and safety during the outbreaks of Covid-19 there.

Teleperformance has also allegedly failed to respect workers’ rights to organize and form unions and associates.

Poorly ventilated offices, production floors that also served as beds during the height of the pandemic crisis, and unenforced distancing requirements are some of the reasons cited.

The BPO Industry Employees Network, an advocacy group in the Philippines, has welcomed the scrutiny from overseas.

“If it weren’t for their courage to stand up for their rights and co-workers’ welfare, their legitimate issues and concerns may not have made it to the NCP," its president Mylene Cabalona said . "This is a win not just for Teleperformance workers but for all BPO workers whose labour provide much-needed services and serve as the productive force to help drive economies, especially during a pandemic.”

While there are no definite solutions that have been announced by Teleperformance, BIEN says it will continue to press for action from the company. “The following weeks will be a litmus test for Teleperformance, as BIEN will be engaging with its Philippines management to establish a social-dialogue structure to serve as workers’ platform to push for better working conditions and to create independent and elected Health and Safety Committees,” Cabalona said.

Offices and work-related facilities continue to contribute to a high number of Covid-19 infections in the Philippines. Local media has reported that in Quezon City alone there have been 2,600 coronavirus cases, and six deaths, across 57 call centers so far this year.

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