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Latest Call-Centre Worker Out Now! June 23, 2010

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For the summer 2010 issue, click on the picture.

This edition leads with the 300 job losses at Telegen in Brighton, which went bust last month.
Most of the issue is a guide to getting started organising a union.
If you are a call-centre worker, please send us your experiences. Don’t worry, we will ensure that you cannot be identified.

Contact us on londoncallcentres@gmail.com


CWU activist suspended at Pell and Pales April 20, 2010

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EMERGENCY MEETING; Wednesday 21st April; From 9.15pm; At the Royal Star, 220 City Road (past Moorfields Eye Hospital)

This afternoon (April 19th) CWU activist and Staff Representative, Sam Deane was suspended pending an investigation.
There was another staff rep present whilst Sam was informed by the HR Director, alongside the Campaign Centres Director (CCD) and the OS2 Campaign Centre Manager (CCM), the reason that the disciplinary procedure was being invoked against him.

This follows four previous high-profile sackings of union activists at Pell and Bales, each one of them re-instated following a campaign. (more…)

Two call centre workers’ meetings in London April 20, 2010

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Two important meetings took place on Saturday 10th in the capital as call-centre workers met to discuss the campaign for union rights in their industry.

First, the CWU Pell and Bales Section AGM, where the guest speaker, a CWU rep from a Docklands-based telecoms firm talked about how he and his engineer workmates won union recognition in 2003.

He explained how when he started work there,  there was no union. But soon there was a core of a few activists that started to  organise  and they found that the biggest recruiter to the union was the management. There were a lot of grievances, particularly with pay.

London engineers could not understand why it was that their London weighting allowance and shift allowance were tied up in their pay, yet their pay matched that of engineers doing the same job in Manchester. “I know that Central London is in Zone 1,” he told one manager, “but what zone is Manchester in?”

As the campaign intensified, management offered a shift allowance of £2,000.  But this was seen as a victory and workers confidence grew and the CWU members at Telecity won recognition in 2003.

Buoyed by references to Mark Serwotka’s , the PCS union leader, interview in the Guardian, headlined ‘Call centres are the new dark satanic mills’, the AGM resolved to campaign for pay increases across all sites, oppose cuts in hours for zero hour staff and press for recognition.

The AGM was followed by the Call-Centre Worker meeting. Casual zero hour contracts were a real problem. Leading off the discussion, a worker from a market research company, told of how the company has no work for their agents for six weeks.

A guest speaker from the Right To Work Campaign, also a bus driver and Unite rep in London, spoke about how important Busworker has been in organising workers and hopes to make links with Call-Centre Worker. He also encouraged those assembled to sign up for the Right To Work Emergency conference in May, which he believed would be vital in organising resistance to whichever Government tries to attack workers living standards and public services.

An editorial board of eight workers in the industry was elected for Call-Centre Worker. As Call-Centre Worker expands, we hope to get more call-centre workers involved on the board.

Share your experiences on this blog anonymously; write to londoncallcentres@gmail.com.

CWU @ Pell and Bales newsletter April 2010 April 12, 2010

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The latest issue of the bulletin for workers at Pell and Bales charity call centres is now available. It is produced by CWU members. Click below for the PDF

Email londoncallcentres@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an (anonymous) article about working at P&B or any other call centre. Also get in touch if you would like to be posted printed copies.

10th April Call Centre Worker meeting April 9, 2010

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Important Notice

There is a change to the venue for the Pell and Bales section Annual General Meeting and the Call-Centre Worker Meeting on Saturday 10 April.

The Call-Centre Worker Meeting starts at 7pm at The Royal Star, 220 City Road, London (nearest tube Old St) just past Moorfields Eye Hospital.

New issue of Call Centre Worker March 31, 2010

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A new issue of Call Centre Worker is now available. It includes articles on organising at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow, a CWU Organising Fringe Meeting at the union’s conference, and details of the April 10th London organising meeting and April 23rd Love Music Hate Racism gig. Click the image below to download the PDF.

Email londoncallcentres@gmail.com to submit (anonymous) articles for this site or the bulletin, or to receive printed copies of Call Centre Worker.

Combative spirit as CWU activists meet March 31, 2010

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The first conference of CWU reps in the non-recognised sector epitomised the spirit of the new, young and combative activists in the movement beginning to make a serious challenge to the old bureaucrats that currently dominate the Telecoms Executive and Branches in the union.

One of a number of guest speakers, Professor Phil Taylor, Strathclyde Univeristy, set the tone for the conference by railing against BA union-buster Willie Walsh. He explained how our class is facing a serious attack on our services and education. Neo-liberal workplace models were developed in call-centres, and activists in these workplaces needed to organise. Increasingly the call-centre models with targets and performance management are being used right across industry and more so in the public sector. (more…)

Working with NL recruitment March 22, 2010

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NL Recruitment is an agency that specialises in recruiting staff for many employers in the Call-Centre industry such as Sky and Morgan Stanley. NL advertises positions for workers in Customer Services, Fundraising, Tele-Marketing in London, Surrey and the North East.

Pell and Bales is one of NL Recruitment’s major clients in London.

Feedback from callers with NL is mixed.

One new caller said of NL that “they are very friendly and always happy to help with any problem you may have”.

Another caller was unable to attend the final training and NL was able to reschedule this with P&B.

However, there have been some problems with NL.

  • NL gave some new callers the impression that they had got a job with Pell and Bales when they were confirmed for training. It was only when arriving at Pell and Bales that they discovered that they would have to pass training.
  • Many callers are confused by the pay and holiday structure and would like a document that explained this in more detail
  • A separate company ISS provides the payroll service for NL. They are based in Guernsey and therefore have no UK tax liabilities. ISS does however tax callers employed by NL. NL callers, not NL, have 4% of their wages (the lowest in Pell and Bales) deducted for this “service”. That is why it is important that NL callers ensure that they claim their holiday entitlement and retain train and bus tickets, as travel costs can be claimed back. It is possible to claw back more than the 4% lost this way.

The issue of Pell and Bales using an agency who in turn uses an offshore payroll company that charges low-paid callers was raised by the CWU at a Staff Reps meeting a few years ago. Initially management told us that if they established that an agency they used charged callers for the payroll service they would end the contract with that agency. Once they had spoken to NL, at the following Staff Reps meeting they said that NL callers could be potentially better off. NL Recruitment became the sole agency for recruiting callers when Pell and Bales in-house recruitment team was disbanded in April 2009.

Our position is that if ISS are not paying UK tax, they can afford to waive the fee charged to NL callers and pay the lowest-paid callers a decent rate, decent holiday entitlement and re-imburse travel costs.

The CWU continues to campaign for all agency callers to be paid at least the London Living Wage, as recommended by the Mayor of London’s office of £7.60 per hour

If you are an agency worker at Pell and Bales and need some advice– let us know.

Another exclusive from the News of The Screws: charities in fundraising shock March 10, 2010

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From a CWU member at Pell and Bales

A sordid, evil underground group named “The Callers” are asking people to help people that might be worse off than them – our intrepid reporter Lunchtime O’Loan exposes these filthy communists with their ideals of helping others

There is an enemy within our midsts. The phone rings. It could be a relative with some important news , or even more innocently it might be a friendly chap from a reputable satellite TV company wishing to inform you of a fantastic introductory offer on all the sports and movie channels, a HD box and a Marks and Sparks voucher.

Instead it’s a thief trying to get you to part with your money with no benefit to yourself. (more…)

Thursday 30 July : Quiz Night… July 28, 2009

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In support of Sulinder Kumar and Kulwinder Plaha, victimised trade unionists at Carphone Warehouse

From 9.15pm at The Litten Tree, Old St

email patrickcarmody@hotmail.com to register

Saturday 1st August from 12 noon: Stop the Carphone Union-Busters

Mass leafletting of the Carphone Warehouse at 4 Oxford St, next to Tottenham Court Road tube