Call centre walkout over sweat shop conditions

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Strike

Workers in seven Jobcentre Plus call centres are to strike for 48 hours this week over their ‘morale-sapping battery-farm style working conditions.’ The walkout will take place in centres where PCS members were compulsorily transferred from processing jobs. If the dispute is not resolved the union will ballot staff for industrial action in the Jobcentre network’s other 32 call centres.

This Thursday and Friday (January 20 and 21) there will be a two-day strike and picket lines at offices in Bristol, the Chorlton district of Manchester, Glasgow, Makerfield, Newport in south Wales, Norwich, and Sheffield. The 3,500 strikers are angry about management by targets which means they are not allowed to process information anymore but must clear calls as quickly as possible. They also complain about a lack of flexibility, deskilling, massive stress and a lack of respect in the workplace.

Jane Aitchison – president of PCS in the Department of Work and Pensions, which includes Jobcentre Plus – said: “Our members find these jobs frustrating. They want to go home feeling they have helped the customers. These are the same staff who were so highly praised for the fantastic work they did during the recession – they deserve to be treated like adults in the workplace to be allowed to organise their work and to help customers properly. We want Jobcentre Plus call centres to be the best, not the worst. Currently they have a high turnover of staff and high levels of sickness and mental health problems. This must end”

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