Call center staff ask for help in collecting benefits from employer

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013


MORE than a hundred former employees of a call center that used to maintain an office at the Asiatown I.T. Park filed a complaint of unfair labor practices against a company that is reportedly founded by three foreign nationals.

The former employees, represented by Israel Joseph Alingasa, also filed a case for collection of benefits before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Regional Arbitration Board 7 against American nationals Alexander and Wesley Minella, and Mark Kerveillant, a French national.

The Minella brothers and Kerveillant are the reported owners of Cordia Philippines Inc., a company that offered telecommunications services to US and international clients.

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Alingasa said the three foreign nationals should be made to pay government-mandated benefits of Cordia personnel even if they have already established another company.

He said the three foreign nationals declared insolvency in 2011 and later put up Geils Communications Inc., whose offices are reportedly located in Ibabao-Estancia in Mandaue City.

US-based

According to its website, the headquarters of Geils Communications, which offers telecommunications services, is located in Hellertown, Pennsylvania in the United States.

The Minellas and Kerveillant could not be located as of press time yesterday for comment.

A document made available online showed that Kevin Griffo, president of Cordia Communications, filed for bankruptcy before the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida on May 16, 2011. Cordia listed telemarketing and services agreement of its offices at the i2 building at Asiatown I.T. Park among its executory contracts and unexpired leases.

Pag-IBIG Fund president for the Visayas Victoria dela Peña said she will order an investigation to determine if the owners of Cordia and Geils are the same.

She said that if the two firms have the same owners, they can still be made to pay for the Pag-IBIG contributions of Cordia Philippines employees.

Bankruptcy

Alingasa said Cordia Philippines claimed to have $86 million in revenues in 2009.

When Cordia filed for bankruptcy in 2011, he said, the company dismissed half of its 400 employees. Then in October 2012, it asked the remaining workers to resign.

Alingasa said that when they refused to resign, the company closed operations.

Alien Control Officer Casimiro Madarang III of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) 7 said they have no record of Kerveillant and Wesley Minella. But BI records show that Alexander Minella first arrived in Cebu in 2006 and visited often until his last international departure on May 20, 2011.

Alingasa said the government should investigate how the owners of Cordia were able to establish another call center company after declaring bankruptcy.

Dela Peña said that if it is true that Geils and Cordia have the same owners, Pag-IBIG will collect what is due to the workers. “If necessary, we will file criminal charges against the violators,” she said.

“We should discouraged employers from closing their companies and creating a new one so they could evade their obligations to their employees,” dela Peña said.

Director Ma. Gloria Tango of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7 said that under the law, a company must file a 30-day notice of closure so that affected employees would have time to find new jobs.

Tango said, though, that she cannot remember receiving a notice from Cordia management.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 19, 2013.

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