Families of call center employees who died in Davao fire to receive P5-M aid

MANILA, Philippines – A total of $115,000 (P5.7 million*) will be given to families of Research Now SSI employees who lost their lives during the holidays in the fire that engulfed the NCCC mall in Davao City where their office was located.

The company is currently preparing to release the funds to the families of the victims.  

In addition, SSI continues to pay their employees their salaries, while also looking for possible ways to provide them with new employment.

It also continues to secure counseling services for the surviving employees and their families. 

“Our Davao employees have shown incredible resiliency and strength in the wake of the tragedy. We are committed to helping sustain them as members of our global company and as part of the Research Now SSI family,” firm’s CEO Gary Baben said in a statement released Monday, January 8. 

The company said it founded the Davao call center operation in July 2008 as part of its market research Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing services.

Thirty-seven call center agents died (the 38th casualty was a mall employee who tried to rescue them) presumably due to suffocation when a fire hit the NCCC Mall in Davao City on December 23, two days before Christmas. Nearly 500 employees are affected in total.  

Aside from the company’s aid, the Department of Labor and Employment earlier released P30 million to cover the needs of the 2,000 affected workers of the call center and the mall. 

The labor agency also launched a probe into the building’s compliance with the occupational health and safety standards but has yet to release its findings. 

Meanwhile, the Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force said that initial results of their investigation shows that the mall did not comply with fare safety requirements. 

Sprinklers in the building were not functional and the alarm system of the call center was not synchronized with the mall’s emergency alarm. – Rappler.com

*US$1 = P49.88 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.