Criminal charges against Filipino union leaders at Alorica contact centre dismissed
The Prosecutor’s Office in the Manila, Philippines, municipality of Makati dismissed charges of “Alarms, Scandal and Malicious Mischief” filed by contact centre company Alorica against 12 workers including leaders of the Unified Employees of Alorica (UEA) union, and workers’ association BIEN, on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Makati City Senior Assistant Prosecutor, Kareen T. Tacorda-Evangelista said, the charge of Alarms and Scandal was dismissed citing that “the mere holding of a picket/rally is not among the Alarms and Scandal contemplated under the law.” The decision noted that “the complainant’s allegation of conspiracy [by the respondents to commit malicious mischief] is based merely on conjecture.”
BIEN President Mylene Cabalona noted that the decision is a welcome development as these charges arose from an ongoing labour dispute between UEA and Alorica. “The picket protest conducted last September was simply an exercise of our right. The charges filed by Alorica were meant to harass and undermine the fight of UEA and Alorica workers against union busting, unjust termination and unfair policies. The decision to dismiss these false charges vindicates our cause,” Cabalona averred.
The group added that it is not uncommon for companies to file false charges against trade unionists to dissuade them from organizing. “Thus, this positive news should encourage us, particularly contact centre workers, to persist in organizing unions despite the difficulties and setbacks. Only by coming together and reclaiming our right to unionize can we effectively combat unfair labour practices and policies which have proliferated in the contact centre industry,” Cabalona said.
The UEA filed a Notice of Strike last September 7, 2018 on grounds of union busting. At the height of the negotiations, several protest actions were held and the Alorica management retaliated by filing false charges against UEA leaders and BIEN. To date, charges of online libel and grave slander filed by Alorica’s Human Resource Manager against UEA grievance officer, Alfredo Sobrino are still pending.
Alorica is the world’s third largest contact centre company, providing services from the Philippines to US based clients including AT&T, T-Mobile, Citi, Caesars Entertainment, Samsung, LG and Barclays.