Article from the Nov 2004 edition, the Socialist

Unionise these SWEATSHOPS

by a County Armagh call centre worker & Socialist Youth member

LIKE MANY people in the country I work in a call centre, which is now the largest type of employment in the country and also the third most stressful.

With these centres holding their contracts in higher esteem than their workers and competing with each other to keep these contracts it is always the worker who loses out. This is tedious work with staff under constant supervision. With constant threats of the sack unless you meet their usually unrealistic targets and with the large volume of staff, colds and bugs are spread rapidly among the tightly packed employees.

Even a trip to the doctor that requires a few hours off work is recorded as an "employment issue".

The reason they get away with this is that most centres are not unionised and the management use whatever methods they can to keep unions out. When some workers attempted to unionise the centre in which I work, this was brought to the management's attention. They made offers of annual pay increases, a nine day working fortnight and various other things to convince staff to stay out of the union.

They succeeded in keeping the union out and, of course, none of their promises have been implemented. Staff are still being fired for no reason other than to keep the workforce in line and keep up profits.

We are supposed to appreciate the fact that we have a job and let them do what they like.

Unionisation is needed so that we can show the fat cats that, while we are happy to be employed, we will not be used as basically slave labour. We now have sweatshops under a different guise and we need to organise to ensure that this is stopped.

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