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

Posted by callcentreworker in call centre worker, trade union.
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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.

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