Call-centre survey finds staff stressed and in pain

Trade Union survey calls for a call-centre charter in response to findings

Up to three quarters of call centre staff may be experiencing stress, and four out of five suffering headaches, plus more than 60 percent having pains in their hands, wrists and back, reports a Trade Union survey by Unison in Scotland.

More than 80 percent of the people surveyed also said that background noise levels made listening and speaking a strain.

The survey was based on 382 returned questionnaires from 500 members throughout Scotland. Call centres account for 46,000 jobs at 200 sites north of the border.

Unison have now drawn up a six point call-centre charter called Raising the Standard to address the findings:

  • fair pay
  • a positive approach to work/life balance
  • better job design
  • opportunity to join a trade union
  • training and development
  • good health and safety

The union did acknowledge that there had been improvements in equipment and workstation design and a greater recognition of the importance of regular breaks and health checks.

The Unison organiser for utilities in Scotland, Dave Watson, said the charter was meant to be a wake up call for the whole industry. "It recognises that while progress has been made recently, all call centres need to be brought up to the standards of the best."

The industry's trade body, the Call Centre Association, launched its own national standards for best practice in November 2000. This includes a pledge to give call centre employees at all levels mandatory training and development and the introduction of processes to gather employees' views, disseminate information and take appropriate action.

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