Interview: Muscling Up
Unions: Thinking Pink
Bad Boss: Global Bully
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
History: Young Blood
Industrial: Living For Work?
International: Fighting Together
Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Review: Human Racing
The Locker Room
A New Mark for Labor
Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
In September, 2002, Workers Online brought readers news of Teletech's appalling treatment of call centre workers at Moe in Victoria's depressed La Trobe Valley.
We reported its penchant for dressing up as Telstra in drag to dud consumers as well as more than 300 employees pushed onto take-it or leave-it AWAs. These documents, designed by the Federal Government's Office of the Employment Advocate, were used to force staff onto wages paying up to $6000 a year less than direct Telstra employees doing the same work.
The company arrived in Moe so it could extract bounties of around $1000 per employee head from the public purse. The subsidised workers were then instructed to greet callers with the blatant porky - "welcome to Telstra".
Before long, there were complaints of bullying, unexplained deductions from wages, and unjustified dismissals.
Teletech, Moe, earned a special mention sacking a pregnant woman on the grounds that she took too many toilet breaks. It dumped another woman for not ringing through daily updates when it knew she was in hospital with pneumonia.
Originally, much of the problem was sheeted home to local manager, Robyn Dodds, formerly of the Sale Gaol.
Thirteen months later, Workers Online broke the story of the very same Teletech in NSW action and, Dodds or no Dodds, there were similarities galore.
Safety representative, Jerry Gambacorta was frog marched out the door when the company decreed his request for a Risk Assessment on new rosters was "inflammatory" and "malicious".
TeleTech expelled the workplace union rep from the resulting disciplinary hearing and refused to allow representation by a USU (United Services Union) organiser.
It called for Gambacorta to be prosecuted by Workcover before agreeing to his reinstatement when the USU moved to put the matter before the Industrial Relations Commission.
All this was played out against the background of Teletech trying to convince staff they should sign its second generation AWAs, rather than negotiating a collective agreement.
Job delegate, James Woodcock, said TeleTech's AWA campaign was made up of equal parts trickery and secrecy.
"TeleTech's approach to the Australian Workplace Agreements has been that it is 'secret HR business", Woodcock explained. "There was no consultation. People were told that Human Resources had negotiated the AWAs on our behalf."
Just who the employer negotiated with, on behalf of staff, remains a mystery.
Woodcock says on one hand TeleTech is offering a small percentage wage rise. On the other, it doesn't tell workers that its pay scale is not actually set out in the AWA, or any other document, rather it is "company policy". Thus, by simply and unilaterally moving a worker onto a different pay band the promised increase can be made to magically disappear.
In Sydney, it has even managed to trump its $6000 Moe differential, paying newcomers around $10,000 a year less than others doing the same work.
But Australian workers shouldn't feel they are being singled out for special treatment if an intriguing online forum, peopled largely by employees from the US and Canada, is anything to go by.
Amongst the usual "StrawberryBlonds" and "dalovegoddess'" are contributors who choose to label themselves - TeleHell, Pimpedbyteletech, Slave, OuttaHere, Convergyssux and Pissedoffwithwork - and that's just the first page.
"Strawberryblond", to be fair, castigates colleagues for their "whining" and suggests they try trade unionism, while "dalovegoddess" is on a health and safety committee some place called Timmins.
There's plenty of hardcore complaining but, just maybe, the following correspondence sums up the tone.
On November 11, slymq71, wrote: "Thank you phantom for answering my question! I have an interview today at teletech (Sudbury) and am interested in researching it. I must say that all the messages i have seen in this place have scared me into even going for the interview! Is it really as bad as you all make it sound?"
Later that day, Numberone, responds: "Don't be scared honey, just don't go if you don't have to. Teletech sucks....sorry."
Check out more, from the inside, at: http://www.communities.ninemsn.com.au/TeleTechTelescam/discussions.msnw
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