Despite 500,000 U.S. Call Center Job Losses Since 2008, Bank of America Is Hiring in The Philippines
Three years after receiving a $45 billion bailout from the U.S. Government — and just months after it announced it would lay off 30,000 workers — Bank of America has decided to go on a hiring spree…in the Philippines. BoA now joins JP Morgan Chase, CitiGroup, and Wells Fargo as a company housing its call center in the Pacific Rim and the Philippines is now the world’s fastest growing destination for outsourcing despite the fact that it has yet to enact laws that would protect the security of the information it is being charged with routing the world over.
From Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones:
Roman Romulo, deputy majority leader of the Philippine House of Representatives, bragged to the Manila Standard Today earlier this month that the Philippines “has secured its place as the world’s fastest-growing outsourcing hub.” Romulo pointed out that BofA is the last of the “big four” US banks to move their business-support network to his island nation, where the average family makes $4,700 a year.
A spokesman for Bank of America, Mark Pipitone, was unable to provide additional information about the bank’s offshoring plans on Friday. “We have employees and operations where we can ensure that we best serve our customers and clients,” he told me in an email.
The threat to America’s information security appears to be of no interest to Bank of America. Bountiful wage savings, rather, are paramount. Problems like those in India, where call center workers have been caught trying to sell credit card numbers, might be expected to arise in the Philippines as well if no law can be passed. Romulo is attempting to pass such legislation but the big banks are too eager to outsource to be bothered with consumer protections. This is a major concern of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) which represents many of the workers being laid off. In the past four years the industry has lost 500,000 jobs in the United States:
US banks already are operating call centers in the Philippines, “despite the fact that they haven’t actually passed this rudimentary legislation,” says Shane Larson, legislative director for the Communication Workers of America (CWA), which represents 150,000 American call center workers. The Indian government is ahead of the Philippines in passing data privacy laws, notes the union, but those laws specifically exempt the call center industry. And that could lead to problems: In a 2005 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 85 percent of the Indian outsourcing companies that responded said they had experienced information security breaches in the previous year.
In a 2010 report on the offshoring of technical jobs, New York’s Department of Labor concluded that data security in the medical and financial fields is “of critical concern” and that “other nations’ legal systems (especially in developing countries such as India) require reform to match that of the US with respect to privacy and computer security.”
Besides the security concerns, state governments in the United States have been giving large tax incentives to companies willing to build their job centers in the US, with no guarantee they will stay. This is particularly upsetting.
In recent years, local governments in the deindustrializing Midwest have tried to boost their economies by luring call centers with generous tax breaks and economic incentives. T-Mobile, for instance, accepted more than $61 million in state and local recruitment subsidies to locate call center jobs here. But it recently announced it would close seven American call centers, putting around 2,000 people out of work—even as it continues to operate centers in the Philippines and Honduras.
Read Harkinson’s entire piece HERE.