“ACOSET and the Government of Colombia promote a pact for decent work”. – Interview with Miguel Perez Garcia

18, February

Interview with Miguel Perez Garcia, Executive President of ACOSET, Colombian Association of Temporary Service ...

Interview with Miguel Perez Garcia, Executive President of ACOSET, Colombian Association of Temporary Service Companies.


Staffingamericalatina together with the World Employment Confederation starts a series of interviews to key personalities of the staffing world in the region.
In this first installment we have interviewed Miguel Perez Garcia, President of ACOSET, the Colombian Association of Temporary Service Companies.

S- What are the main challenges and opportunities facing the Colombian labor market?
MPG- I am seeing a positive but not yet full evolution of the outsourcing sector due to the opening that has been given to economic activities. Last year, from March to May the confinement was total, with economic activities paralyzed. It had a strong impact on employment and had repercussions on the temporary service sector. We had 480,000 workers and went down to 300,000 workers on assignment. Then came a gradual opening, in construction and commerce, which led to the recovery of more than 2.5 million jobs out of the 4 million that had been lost. The sector also began to recover. At this moment we are at about 400 thousand workers on mission without reaching the rates of December 2019. What we have noticed from the sector:
That it was demonstrated that we are a very important response in crisis and also in uncertainty. The health sector began to require additional personnel to cover different needs. There was a very important response to the flexibilization of human resources with formality. The collateral sectors of the health sector also benefited from this. They were a very important response to this situation.
They have been key to prevent informality from getting out of control. There has been a negative impact on this issue
Looking to the future, the activity is going to get stronger. Many companies are afraid to hire a direct staff for an indefinite period of time due to so much uncertainty. That would give them an extreme rigidity that would make them even less competitive. Companies are looking more at legal and formal subcontracting through our specialized companies.

S- How do you see the short-term and long-term evolution of the sector?
MPG- In the short term, I think that in 2021 we will recover the historical volume. Vaccines and governmental policies tending not to confine will help the recovery. There is no dilemma between health and economy as it has happened in other countries; there is a vocation to harmonize the two activities with biosafety protocols. What reinforces this are the announcements of important investments in housing construction, infrastructure, mining. The government is seeking to boost employment based on these investments and support measures for the hardest hit sectors, such as the tourism sector. We are optimistic.
S- How has the COVID19 crisis affected the market and how prepared is the market for the post-pandemic future?

MPG- There has been a change in the approach to work. Before the pandemic, there was a belief that work had to be face-to-face to be done efficiently. It was a strongly held belief. A second deep-seated element was that for there to be results at work there had to be a direct personal relationship. Any other system was seen as far from efficient. The universe of teleworkers was 30 thousand people, the pandemic arrived and people started to work at home, meetings via zoom, Teams, etc. and it turns out that we all had to adapt to this new reality. Practically and exaggerating, 7 million people started to telework. A brutal change. The technology came in and became generalized. The change that was expected to happen in years, happened in months and has no reversal. The technology, everything digital became generalized and the company that does not evolve in this sense will be left out of the market. The impact is total, the market was not prepared, the shock for temporary services companies was hard but there are no alternatives. If you look at the selection processes, for example, it is impossible to manage them in person. The perception of the use of these tools today is positive, before it could seem depersonalized. Today it is preserving health and making the process more efficient. An interesting and irreversible phenomenon. What is happening to us in the relationship with WEC is fantastic and is an example, we are communicating much more fluently. Before, we did not realize it, but we had to be in person and the connection was less, it was necessary to travel, high costs, etc. This is more efficient, lower costs, less time, today we make extremely productive videoconferences.

S- What actions are you taking to support the members of the association, its clients and workers?
MPG- In the guild we have been very active during the crisis. The government promoted a payroll subsidy. We managed to be included in this subsidy, we were able to structure the real thesis that we are direct employers of the workers on mission. This has helped the companies a lot in the development of their activity. This measure was foreseen until October, then it was extended until March and there are voices asking to extend it until June of this year. We have also supported a lot from the legal point of view, what to do with the licenses, social security issues, health, our legal office has worked a lot in this period. And we are promoting with the government a pact through the Ministry of Labor; a pact for decent work. This is a transcendent initiative between Acoset and the government to guarantee formality through our companies that have an exclusive social purpose. This is very important for the positioning of the sector in Colombia. A specific bipartite agreement between Acoset and the Government. A technical committee has been formed and will have its first meeting this week. We are going to prepare a formal document, a kind of memorandum of understanding that strengthens the concept of subcontracting as decent work. This is going to help us a lot in the efforts we are making in our image and reputation work, focusing on the concept of decent work and emphasizing Convention 181 and Recommendation 188.
S- What are the benefits of being part of the World Employment Confederation?
MPG- Being part of WEC has important benefits. It is the global representative of our sector and they have clear concepts about the importance of the activity with statistical support regarding the incidence in several countries. This allows them to lobby with very important organizations and they have objective, clear and truthful information about the importance of formalization in world economies. This is very useful for us at the local level. The work they do communicating the impact of the formalization of youth employment is extremely important for us. This is a key segment for Colombia. We talk about rotational employment stability, a stable direct employer that allows them to rotate in the temporary needs of the users. When a young worker leaves a company, it is his own colleagues who help him to manage alternatives; when a worker is linked to a temporary services company, he has the support of specialists. In the first case, they do what they can, often informally; through a temporary services company they are in the hands of professionals who guide them and provide formal job opportunities.
S- How do you see the situation in Mexico for outsourcing?
MPG- The situation in Mexico is very worrisome. A bill to end it goes against the way of the World. It is attacking a system duly approved in the entire World. It is not something new. This modality of work acquired nature letter at world level. Mexico is placed in the middle of the last century if this initiative prospers. It is a figure that has the backing of the ILO, experience and practice throughout the world. If I go by the statistics of Mexico, the sector contributes to reduce informality in a very important way, millions of jobs. The other factor I observe is the competitiveness of companies in Mexico, one cannot imagine the costs of keeping workers in periods when companies do not need them. Mexico with its relationship with the United States and Canada and the free trade agreements is left in a very difficult and precarious position without having the necessary flexibility to manage supply chains. They would enter into a very serious inequality in their trade relations with their natural partners. The terms are being confused; if there is informality, it is due to problems of control and supervision. In all sectors and in all countries there are “Caines and Abeles”. This will always happen as long as Humanity exists. To qualify an activity as informal is a mistake, the government should monitor compliance with the rules, not stigmatize. No economic activity should be labeled as “Cain” or “Abel”, control applies to everyone and those who do not comply must be penalized.