Following the fire that broke out on 23 Dec at the NCCC mall in Davao, initial investigation shows a number of fire safety failings which may have contributed to the deaths of 37 staff at the Research Now SSI Philippines CATI call center located on the fourth floor of the mall.
The company’s call center operation in Davao – founded in July 2008 as part of its market research Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) services and having approximately 500 employees – is well established in the market research industry. The response to this tragedy from the industry –customers, colleagues, competitors and Research Now SSI employees – has been profoundly compassionate and supportive. Thanks to their generosity, Research Now SSI has raised over $90,000 USD for the families of the victims. While money can in no way replace their loved ones, these funds, along with financial support already committed to by the company, will help provide for the families.
At a memorial service Research Now SSI hosted in Davao, the company reinforced its commitment to having a work location in Davao, for which it has already begun exploring site options. In the meantime, the company will look to place some of the Davao team in its 1,000-person Cebu facility.
Despite the loss of the facility, the company continues to make payroll for the entire Davao employee population. It also plans to replace any personal items lost in the fire. In addition, Research Now SSI continues to provide the Davao employees with grief counseling and to helping the victims’ families with both financial and counseling support.
Research Now SSI is committed to working with local authorities in their continuing investigation. The company’s local Philippines attorneys and Davao management team have been cooperating with and will continue to work with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Davao, which is the local government agency involved the investigation into the NCCC Mall fire; the Bureau of Fire Protection head office, and a special task force organized by Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, composed of these agencies as well as the City government of Davao and the Department of Interior and Local Government. Research Now SSI is confident that an impartial investigation will reveal that it has complied with all the security and safety requirements required by law.
Gary S. Laben, CEO of Research Now SSI, says, “Speaking for our entire company and especially for our Davao colleagues, the outpouring of sympathy, support and generosity to this horrific event has been heartening and is greatly appreciated at this extremely difficult time. We are focused on helping our employees and the victims’ families, and cooperating with the government agencies, over the coming weeks and months.”