The book is too long and therefore I write only about the parts that are important to the BDC. The union recognizes that the work in call centres is a growing. What the union would like is for all call centres in all parts of the country to set up their own regional forum to discuss problems and bring them forward to the National Committee.
The union has set out a call centre charter which covers many things like, terms and conditions, high adequate training, skilling and strong health and safety standards and making sure the patterns of work are flexible and meet that need of all staff.
The union hope to work with other unions and appropriates external experts and institutions in developing a charter for call centre workers that covers all the unions.
Another subject that came up was the subject of postnatal depression. It is it a large concern to the union that management are not able to see that postnatal depression is part of pregnancy. Management seem unsympathetic to this and instead of giving members of staff special leave for this time off, they are recording it as sickness. The union believes there should be more training for managers in this area.
The next area concerned was around personnel policy. The conference notes that the government has publicly endorsed recommendations on the meeting and squeeze skills levels of public sector workers across the civil service but the civil service departments keep introducing work systems that fail to make use of existing skills and discouraged workers from increasing their skills. There are many problems around work systems like LEAN, which have shown not to increase good customer service delivery but actually undermined and not enhanced it. This kind of programme has been introduced across many organisations in the Civil service under different names and union representatives should be made aware of the different names for the same system. The motion instructs the main committee to produce clear guidance to all groups and that of answers based on opposition to this kind of working process.
There needs to be keys safeguards around such issues as;
no individual output monitoring,
no individual targets,
access to for high standards of training,
a problem makes of work for the great bear actually,
no out of a great working,
defence of flexible working time arrangements,
and there needs to be a way to make sure that the vice of staff to take annual leave is cats.
This motion instructs the committee to publicise the findings of Whitehall studies and other evidence that show that this kind of work in call centres has an extreme impact on staff if the equipment and buildings are of a bad design that cannot facilitate the correct space, lightings, air condition etc. They want the union to campaign, lobby and negotiated at all levels to raise awareness of the counter-productive effects of this kind of system.
There are other things that were brought forward around call centres that are different to the ones mentioned before. I will try and now and summarise some of those things.
We have covered some of those things already, but I will now go through the other concerns of call centres across the country.
Excessive targets have been proven to be detrimental to customer service by careless this about numbers and it is not about giving a good service.
They are calling for a right to flexible working patterns, including the rights for members today the start of an inch time as an achiever workload balance that is right for the individual. They also were asking for sedition training to ensure the line of staff to affect the hand to handle calls uncover a staff and even absences.
This important to notice that a lot of people in call centres are not getting the adequate high level of training and it is rushed. They are not getting continual updated training. These are points that were in the motions by many different call centres across the country.
what the union hoped to do is work with other experts and organisations and other unions to come up with ways to push the plight of call centres to the public and come up with ideas based upon the facts and evidence, to make sure that the lives of people working call centres is enhanced.
They’re asking that core health and safety regulations are to be strictly enforced including to right to take breaks. That the rate of pay and conditions remain the or enhanced if the work of the call centres is given to other organisations outside the government.
There should be sight and hearing tests carried out in all call centres and that all new staff are given this before they start work in call centres. They are asking that these tests are radially done every year to all staff in call centres.
For the PCS National Committee to seek legal advice in preparing cases post traumatic dramatic stress and injury cases and also organize an advanced training programme for all call centre reps, so that there are able to encourage and support local and national or action weather management project improvements to working conditions. This will be backed up with professional research from experts who specialise in the work of call centres for use in the campaigning work.
The union is aware that the cabinet office promise to promote guidance produced by the home office around domestic violence and there was Assurance that all the directors of each department in the civil service would make this a guide is available to all staff, a make sure the staff knew it was there and to consider whether domestic violence policies need to be changed in light of this new guidance.
The union feel that this needs to be monitored to make sure that this guidance is included when negotiating workplace policies, that it is up to date and puts in a place persistent ensure that further changes now or in the future in the law are carried over to workplace policies.
They also feel that there needs to be training and material to make sure those who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse is handled correctly, and this includes domestic violence in the case of other minorities such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and the Trans communities. They feel that the union to lobby the government to increase the funding to those people who are experiencing this, so that they have access to legal aid to make sure that this kind of thing can be stopped.
I’m not going to cover other areas that came up at the conference.
The union is very much aware of the discipline and dismissal procedures to get rid of staff on ill health and sickness grounds. They feel that this is a way to get rid of staff and speed up the reduction of staff within the civil silver service, without the need to pay redundancy payments and to pay the out small amounts of compensation payments.
June also feels that the coveralls for civil servants its prey been calculated for the last four years is unfair putting staff and a unnecessary hardship. The cobblers therefore ask that the committee look at the correct also upon which are sick pay is home to undergo shirt with the cavern out of this to make sure that this is by ours.
The unaware that current Health and Safety legislation does not includes the temperature of how hot the workplace it should be. Temperature problems in work have been a major concern for members across all of all of the Civil service, especially in the open plan offices.
The fact that there is no maximum temperature of the workplace means that workers are being exploited as their employer is putting the health of employees at risk and also not considering their duty of care while staff work in tropical temperatures.
Hot desking maybe a way to reduce accommodation costs and maybe okay one or two occasions, it is not a private that most of our police position there was a problem where departments are ignoring DFC assessments, and there was an additional risk of accidents due to start moving work related materials every day.
This year the problem of call centres where the major work is on the phones and working with display screen equipment. The problems seems to be well known that humidity levels lead to Problems with I us and contact lenses, headaches, skin rashes, try sulphates fun important faction and voice loss, and also migraines. These are what is called call centre hazard health.
The health and safety executive and the British Association recommends a 40 per cent committed level as a minimum. Unfortunately trillium is contracted to fulfil these obligations in respect of health and safety, but only contracted to maintain there are humidity level of 30 per cent. The health and safety executive crown cent share of age and the revenue and customs made a judgement on them for that ensure that the thermal comfort included a humidity level between of 40 per to 70 per cent. You do asking the committee to ensure that the government renegotiate its contracts with trillium I make sure that it feels is our practitioners in the Gaza Health and safety matter.
There is an important case where union members were refused permission to have the annual AGM meeting and this goes against policies agree with the union. The year went to Thompson’s solicitor for advice and were advised to tell the members not to challenge management. The members did not follow this advice with the branch and took their employer to a tribunal court and were all awarded compensation of over £1000 .
This made the point that the contract with Thomson solicitors needs to be reviewed as the union should have been giving the wrong advice. There was huge cheers in the conference and major support from the delegates, but only embarrassment for the national committee as they had not supported these members, but they still won. Part of this problem is the solicitors only get paid for the work and the advice is not paid for. They are supposed to look at cases and gage whether they would be over 70% successful. It is based upon that information whether the union take on the case or not.
What the union needs to do is look at the contract arrangement with Thomson solicitors and look for a more supportive deal that gives union members are better deal the motion stated.
There was much talk about Making Your Vote Count and the Unions campaigns around that asked union members to write to their members of parliament, rally and make their voice heard. There were many branches that did this and it is due to those actions that members of parliament come into the local offices to listen to staff and the real pressures facing our staff within different offices. This shows the power of the people, as in the staff, to make changes. It is important to remember how many members there are within the whole civil service and what a large portion of society we make in this union and also in other unions who are voters. Members of parliament recognise this and this can influence members of parliament to listen to the concerns of staff.
The union notes energy DWP, there is a high turnover of sickness absence that is much higher in contact centres than other parts of the department. This is due to the way that management are handling sickness manage and procedures. The unions states that the rather than resolving the underlying causes of sickness and resolving them they are blaming the staff and punishing them. The union noticed with alarm that in the DWP over 20 per cent of all the chords contact centres receives sickness warnings within a six month period. Union believes that through the national call centre forums a huge increase in the efforts to put pressure on contact centres to take responsibility and look after their staff.
The union also notice there’s a huge number of bullying cases across civil service and even had an acceptance of the scanner behaviour and society at large. The huge cuts in staff have led to further rises in all kinds of increase pressure on managers and staff alike, therefore the conference’s tracts of the committee to campaign for anti bullying laws and also a mediation service to help identify and resolve the cases of this nature at the early as opportunity. There were many cases of motions put forward to the NASA conference which were very similar across the defender departments I have covered as much as I can, as I think anything else would bore you.
I hope you feel enlightened about what has been discussed and debated at the national conference. I was not at the DWP conference and therefore cannot give a report just on our departments. The report Alan giving is based upon all government departments including ours. I’m as states that the DWP actually put forward the most motions towards conference, which shows that the DWP are facing the most difficulties across the hall civil service.