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News : DOLE to Probe Closed Call Center Firm for Labor Case
June 29, 2014 -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 7 will inspect BluConnect Solutions Inc., a call center on A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City to confirm reports that it shut down last June 26.
As this developed, Sylvio Dorig, spokesperson and vice president of the Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAO), informed Sun.Star Cebu that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) scheduled a hearing on the complaint for unjust labor practices filed against BluConnect.
Records at NLRC show that at least 80 BluConnect employees filed the complaint against BluConnect Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeff Newman and BluConnect Manager Bella Fabricante.
Dole 7 Director Chona Mantilla said a team of labor laws compliance officers, led by Engr. Vic Abordo, went to BluConnect, but was told by the guards that the office closes during Saturdays and Sundays.
Mantilla said that because Sylvio and Rosie Hong did not show up when they were invited by Dole officers, the compliance officers will conduct the inspection by themselves.
She said that Dorig and Hong failed to bring to Dole 7 the BluConnect employees who were directly affected so their problem can be documented.
Abordo, for his part, said they have limited facts regarding BluConnect because no affected employees came to their office to confirm the allegation of Dorig and Hong.
In a separate interview, Dorig said BluConnect is owned by Newman, an American, and Fabricante, a Filipina manager.
Sun.Star Cebu tried to call Fabricante, but she could not be reached for comment.
Last June 13, some 80 employees filed a complaint against BluConnect before the NLRC for allegedly firing some of its employees without any legal grounds.
In a phone interview after the complaint was filed, Fabricante denied the allegations.
"They committed fraud, they created ghost sales and we had no choice but to let go of them because our client requested for it," she said earlier.
Although she admitted that the workers have not been allowed to work for some time, she clarified that it is just temporary. Both Newman and Fabricante also allegedly owned Direct Access at I.T. Park, Cebu City, which they closed without warning two years ago, and without paying almost 600 agents their salaries for one month.
Dole 7 intervened and, eventually, the Direct Access workers were paid.
Dorig said Dole 7 and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) must take note that after closing Direct Access, Newman and Fabricante established BluConnect at the back of the Banilad Barangay Hall in Mandaue City, allegedly in the guise of a home-based call center contractor to avoid payment of mandated benefits to the workers and taxes.
Hong said BluConnect hired agents at P20,000 a month, but the amount was reduced to P10,000 after several months.
"That is already a violation of the labor law. Naa bay suweldo nga us-osan (Is that right to decrease one’s pay)?" Hong said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014