||Issue No. 199||10 October 2003|
Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Unions: National Focus
Industrial: Fools Gold
Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
History: The Gong Show
Politics: The Hawke Legacy
International: Sick Nation
Economics: Closed Minds
Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
Poetry: One Size Fits All
The Locker Room
An Honest Job
Letter From America
Call Centre Stumps Umpire
Bjorn Hoekstra’s talents in the middle saw him given a first-class call-up by cricket authorities but TeleTech’s Moe management had other ideas, even though the required leave had been cleared through the company’s Melbourne head office.
The decision by local TeleTech management comes amidst claims of staff money going missing from a social fund, management blocking child care proposals, and an attempt to force employees onto AWAs.
The plight of TeleTech workers came to light as the ACTU blitzed more than 70 call centres nationally.
The effort of a cricket umpire from the battling La Trobe Valley to reach the highest level of the sport in Australia is an outstanding achievement. First Class umpires can go on to officiate at test and state level.
Hoekstra had arranged time off through the company's human resource managers in Melbourne but local management refused the employee's request for Saturdays off.
Local TeleTech management is also opposing a move by the Moe Council to place a childcare centre in the facility which TeleTech shares with the Department of Community Services and a university.
Staff are also trying to trace where money paid weekly into a social club has gone. Staff are currently unable to account for or locate funds from the social club. The social club's treasurer is the local TeleTech manager.
The attempt by TeleTech to pressure its employees onto AWAs is an attempt to avoid meeting the conditions of the Contract Call Centre Award according to Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) organiser Gail Drummond.
"TeleTech management are putting their head in the sand hoping we will go away," says Drummond. "We are not going away."
A majority of staff at TeleTech's Moe facility are union members.
"They know its normal to join a union," says Drummond. "TeleTech are trying to avoid being a part of the Contract Call Centre Award, which would give employees penalty rates and better conditions. Well we're going to make them a part of the award."
TeleTech's Moe operation, which employs around 400 people, has had a staff turnover of 25% of the La Trobe Valley's population in the last two years.
The ACTU week-long organising blitz on call centres - dubbed the sweatshops of the 21st century - involved activities ranging from mass meetings, petitions to management, stop work meetings, wearing stickers to BBQs and more.
As well as the CPSU the main unions involved included the Australian Services Union, the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, the Financial Sector Union and the National Union of Workers.
A Call centre Hotline set up by the ACTU recorded complaints including unpaid training, harassment and bullying, petty time-keeping and performance monitoring and humiliation when unrealistic targets for sales and call times not met. Call centre employees called for the right to be covered by the new Contract Call Centre Award - offering pay rises of up to $1,000 per year, the right to join the union and the right to permanent status for long term casuals.
The ACTU Call Centre Hotline is 1300 365 205
"The stories we've heard this week show the need for better regulation to achieve decent minimum standards in the call centre industry," says ACTU campaign coordinator Belinda Tkalcevic. "It's been amazing to hear the relief in people's voices when they realise the union can help them resolve problems at work."
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