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2013 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
20 February 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that in 2012, UNISON launched the call centre charter, which calls on all employers who have UNISON members working in a call centre or in call handling operations to commit to improving the standards which those staff operate under.

Conference notes that the charter was primarily aimed at branches in the energy service group, however, the concerns raised also apply to staff working in any call centre – including those in the water, environment and transport sectors.

Included in the charter is the requirement that staff are able to take sufficient breaks away from the workstation and are not monitored to an unreasonable extent.

Conference notes, however, that at a time when employers are cutting back on costs and resources, including staffing, there is increased pressure on employees to respond and deal with calls quickly.

The introduction of systems such as Totalview Telephony gives employers even greater access to monitoring of employees, with promises that the system gives “a complete overview of the status of the employees” and that “employees always know where their colleagues are.”

Whilst such systems promise better service and cost savings for employers, there is also the potential for management abuse, in micro-managing staff and monitoring their activity to an excessive degree. This can lead to increased stress, bullying and harassment, particularly when managers are themselves under pressure to meet unrealistic targets.

Conference therefore calls upon the service group executive to:

• Promote the call centre charter to branches in the water, environment and transport sector, and encourage them to negotiate with employers to sign up to the charter;

• Ensure that branches have the necessary advice and guidance to support them in negotiating reasonable working standards in line with the charter.