- Speak to your manager about any health issues which could be impacted by phone work
- We will resist any attempt to impose the draconian Contact Centre management culture
- If you have any questions or concerns, contact your nearest PCS rep for advice
For several years now PT have operated a policy of switching processing staff on to phone work in order to meet peaks in phone calls. This has been spread out across the PT network until on virtually every site there was staff undertaking phone work at different times of the year. Bootle Group was one of the last remaining offices where we remained free of this important work; not that we were complaining obviously.
With PT being badly understaffed they need to maximise the number of staff trained to take calls – and with post allegedly at a manageable level (although only achieved through millions of pounds on overtime) they have finally come for us as well – although we have at least been able to prepare for such a day. This is the first in a series of briefings we will be putting out to address the numerous issues that will arise from this undertaking.
The official brief that accompanied the announcement recognised that we have numerous members of staff who previously worked in contact centres and were transferred due to health issues. The briefing talks about those staff having a conversation with their manager to see if the circumstances still apply.
In such circumstances we expect managers to give consideration to the nature of the health issue that caused the member to be removed from phone work. For example someone may have suffered severe anxiety that lead to the removal form the contact centre and now they don’t suffer from anxiety – because they don’t work in a contact centre. In such circumstances we would not expect the manager’s conclusion to be that they are now fit for CC work. If members have any concerns please speak to a rep.
As well as the former CC staff, there will also be many members who have never worked in a CC that are not suitable for this type of work. It is important that you speak to you manager about this now.
There will obviously be some clear cut cases – for example a member who is totally deaf is clearly not suitable for phone work. We would hope in such circumstances that a very easy decision can be made by the manager, and that such a member does not have to go through the rigmarole of Occupational Health referrals (this has happened on other sites).
You may have a less obvious reason why phone work is inappropriate, and in many cases your managers may be unaware. (For example, tinnitus.) Again it’s important you speak to your manager as soon as possible.
Any problems speak to a rep.
Avoiding the CC Culture
Being blunt, phone work is grim. It’s not nice being shouted at by a taxpayer and taking the blame for the chronic failures in leadership of the department. What makes life in CC’s even worse though is the pervasive, insidious management culture that attacks the staff at every opportunity. The obsession over how long people take on the phone, the obsession over how long someone takes to go to the toilet, or if someone is a couple of minutes late back from a break.
We have no control over the nature of the calls, but when it comes to other issues like the call of nature, we all collectively can contribute towards a better management culture. We will robustly resist any move to introduce contact centre management techniques.
Flexi will operate as normal.
It is likely that we will see more restrictions over leave over the coming year as we will be expected to offer phone cover during peak times. We will advise you further on this over the next few weeks.
If phone work is inevitable we want to ensure that it distributed in a fair way. We don’t want one span stuck on the phones for months on end –and ideally will look towards some form of rota to ensure that no-one is overburdened. We will be consulting members over how best to achieve this aim.
If you have any concerns over any issue please speak to a rep ASAP so we can take them forward to senior management.
John Virtue Steve Kearney
Office Chairperson Office Secretary