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Call centre worker – issue 1 out now! July 11, 2009

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The first issue of Call centre worker, a bulletin by and for call centre workers, is now available. The bulletin is meant to suit all call centres regardless of industry or union, and features news and info from different workplaces.

ccw1

This issue has an article about why we should organise, another on the story of the victimisations at Carphone Warehouse and a Charter of call centre workers’ demands.

Email londoncallcentres@gmail.com if you want to write for a future issue (anything about conditions at your workplace, stories of organising or management behaviour) or to be sent printed copies to hand out at your workplace. You can also print off copies from the PDF!

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Demonstrate for Carphone Warehouse workers July 11, 2009

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Demonstrate! for trade union freedom, the right to organise and secure jobs for everyone!

Carphone Warehouse have victimised two members of the Communication Workers Union for organising a union and standing up for their rights at the Wednesbury Logistics Centre in the West Midlands.

Sulinder Kumar (sacked) and Kulwinder Plaha (under discipline) for standing up for justice at work. Support is needed from trade unionists, the general public, and Carphone Warehouse customers!

Sat 18 July, 2009 – We are organising transport from London.
Contact Pat Carmody: 07913 701042,
patrickcarmody@hotmail.com
Marching through Wednesbury to Carphone Warehouse!

Call centre worker organising meeting 27th June June 16, 2009

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A meeting has been arranged where people from different workplaces will be discussing how best to organise together in call centres.

The 27th June meeting will be discussing a  Charter of call centre workers’ demands, and also the planning and production of a bulletin to distribute around different workplaces, as explained in this report of a recent meeting.

The meeting takes place from 6pm on Saturday 27th at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near London’s Old Street station.

report of London call centre workers’ meeting June 16, 2009

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by Jack Staunton

On Saturday evening two dozen call centre workers from around London attended a meeting to discuss how we can best organise together. Although in the UK there are now some 750,000 people working in various types of call centre (such as sales, service calls and market research), very few are unionised. Employment is often very precarious, and the high turnover of staff in many workplaces means it can be difficult to organise, even though semi-casual work on low pay, along with management behaviour and petty rules, give plenty of reasons for us to do so.

The meeting took place as an extension of the AGM of the CWU branch at the Pell and Bales charity call centre in Old Street. Workers from another Pell and Bales site, as well as CCA International (sales), IFF (market research) and Listen (charity fundraising) attended to share experiences of standing up to zealous managers and recruiting people to the union, as well as to plan ahead to co-ordinate our organising initiatives. (more…)

13th June organising meeting June 3, 2009

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There is a “Campaign for Call Centre Workers’ Rights” meeting taking place from 6pm on Saturday June 13th.

The Communication Workers’ Union branch at Pell and Bales charity call centre in Old Street has opened its annual general meeting to workers from other London call centres, and we will be discussing how to organise in our own workplaces as well as how to work together.

The meeting takes place at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row (near Old Street station) from 6pm.

What’s it like at Pell and Bales? April 15, 2009

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– What work is done at P+B?

Pell and Bales run a call centre that mainly, although not exclusively, makes calls on behalf of Not-For-Profit organisations. In the main, we raise funds on the telephone for charities, although P&B have been known to have contracts with commercial clients. Although P&B have a number of competitors, if you have been called by a charity, it is most likely that the call came from a Pell and Bales employee. (more…)

Carphone Worker blog April 15, 2009

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Carphone Worker is a site from members of the Communication Workers Union working at Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk, Opal, Carphone Networks, Geek Squad – the Carphone Warehouse Group PLC.  The CWU is a 240,000 strong union for workers in the communications industries, with several hundred members working for the Carphone Warehouse group.  We want to work with the company, to give members a real voice at work where their opinions are taken into account.

See http://www.carphoneworker.co.uk/

where to work? April 1, 2009

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With over 750,000 employees in the UK, call centres are on the up, and can be one of the easiest places to find work, particularly if you don’t want to – or can’t – work 9-5 five days a week.

However, many are affected by the recession and those where workers are on very casual contracts are likely to make it hard for you to find any regular shifts at this point in time.

So we have set up a section on this site called Working in London, with details on where work is going at the moment and what conditions are like. There are hundreds of different call centres in London in sales, market research and charity calling, and for this to be effective we’ll look to cover as many workplaces as possible and keep the details up to date.

Help us do this by writing comments on the page or emailing londoncallcentres@gmail.com. Where do you work? What work is done there? What are the conditions, and what are the managers like?

OCIS workers secure pay increase after lock-out March 31, 2009

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50 Unite Union members at the OCIS call centre in Auckland, New Zealand stood strong on Friday night after their employer locked them out of their workplace. The lock out came after three weeks of wildcat strike action by workers.

ocisdemo

Small groups of, nearly all teenaged, interviewers and supervisors had been regularly walking off shift, especially during unpopular weekend shifts. Scuffles broke out and the police turned up Friday night as officials and members attempted to rush the door to the call centre.

The lock out followed the first ever general stop work meeting of market researchers where union delegates from across Auckland and Hamilton and a represtenative from the National Union of Workers in Australia voted for united action against OCIS for attempting to win $30,000 in damages from the union. The damages were for, among other things, Unite calling OCIS a shadowy multinational.

By Saturday afternoon the lock out was over after a settlement was reached that included: higher rates of pay, better job security and payments to locked out union members equal in value to the amount lost as a result of the lock out. As part of retaliation for the lock out the union had released information that members had been doing secret research on whether the public wants the return of nuclear ship visits.

Interview about the Synovate workers’ hunger strike March 31, 2009

Posted by callcentreworker in market research, new zealand, strike, trade union.
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On 25th-26th February over twenty workers at the market research call centre Synovate in New Zealand (which also has a UK branch) mounted a 24-hour hunger strike to protest at being on the minimum wage, lack of breaks and zero job security. The workers are organised in New Zealand’s Unite union, which has organised the Supersize My Pay campaign. We spoke to one of the union’s organisers, Omar Hamed.

What are working conditions like at Synovate? What work is done?

Working conditions have been quite poor but are improving a lot with the union’s presence. The call centre is often noisy, workers complain that the air-conditioning makes it too cold and the carpet is often infested with fleas. Workers are given very little direction on how to prevent RSI and how to reduce the risk of back and neck strain. People commonly complain about sore ears or eyes in the call centre.

The bulk of the work is market research interviewing for large multinational corporations that operate in New Zealand.

How are the workers organised? What is management’s reaction?

Workers are organised as members of the Unite Union’s Calling for Change campaign. We have meetings around once a month, send out newsletters and have elected delegates.

At first the management called the police when we tried to access the call centre but they realised the law allows us to have access to talk to workers and have eventually allowed access to staff. They are bound by good faith as we are to bargain with us and we have negotiated with them and are continuing to negotiate a collective agreement with better wages and conditions with Synovate.

How did the hunger strike come about?

The hunger strike was a novel way to protest the low wages that we thought would be better than n ordinary strike so that union members would not lose money that they need in these harsh economic times.

What was its resolution?

We are continuing to negotiate with Synovate and hope to achieve a fair settlement for union members.

What can Synovate workers in the UK do to help you? What can be learnt from this dispute?

Organise. Organise. Organise. Wherever call centres are workers must be organised. Synovate workers in the UK should join a union like the CWU and put pressure on their company fo better wages and conditions. Eventually we should seek to get one big union agreement for call centre workers the world over. We’ve learnt that disputes are important because they put pressure on bosses to settle agreements because they do not want the embarassment of their employees protesting outside their building. If we never fight, we will never win.