BPO Industry Hesitant In Welcoming Trade Unions

There are growing concerns for Call Centre employees within the BPO industry.

The local BPO sector has grown from just over 12,000 employees to an estimated 40,000 in the last seven years and is currently valued at US$780 million.

However, it has been reported that many of their workers are on short term contracts with little to no benefits. Trade Unions, which are looking to step in, say they are being met with resistance, particularly among international business clients.

In light of this, a few BPO workers have reached out to CVM LIVE. They expressed frustration, but are unwilling to speak publicly for fear of being victimized or have their services terminated. They say working conditions at some of the BPO outlets are less than favourable and are calling for representation.

Trade Unionist, John Levy is hoping to break down the resistance from operators in the Global Services Sector to have union representation within their firms.

“What we have found based on the complaints that we’ve gotten…from all over the island, they don’t think that they are being treated in the best way…” he says.

Levy says workers need to have a structure which negotiates on their behalf. He points out that many contract workers do not have benefits which adds to their wellbeing such as a pension plan, NHT benefits and the medical insurances. 

He says the Trade Union is proposing a joint Industrial Council for the BPO sector.

Trade Union Met With BPO Industry Resistance

However, Gloria Henry the President of Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica said, Trade Unionism is not needed.

“Employers are focused on people. It is a people intensive industry so really it doesn’t suit any employer not to treat their workers well. It is their best and their greatest asset. I have not see any comparisons to show that Unions have helped any sector to grow, to advance, especially right now where we are in this pandemic,” she says.

She points out that her organization does a very good job at representing their workers and advocating for them. She says the Ministry of Labour has also played a key role in intervening on behalf of the workers.

Henry says she has not seen where any other company has benefited from having a Trade Union and believes it a waste of time and will only disrupt the good relationship between them and their international clients.

She also says it will handicap the growth of the industry.

CVM LIVE‘s Paige Dixon reports: