Call centre staff invoke grievances over withdrawal of tea break

Travel agency Thomson is facing a staff mutiny at its Glasgow call centre after management scrapped workers’ afternoon tea break.

The 400-strong workforce has pledged to get the company to do a U-turn after it ditched a second paid 15-minute break of the day for agents working eight hours a day.

The 42 longest-serving agents have issued staff grievance procedures and the employees – who start on a salary of £9,500 a year – have signed a petition which will be presented to call-centre managers at a grievance hearing.

Sources have told Personnel Today’s sister publication Travel Weekly that some staff are continuing to take the afternoon break despite being threatened by disciplinary procedures. Employees have been told they will get a ‘file note’ if they take the break. Three file notes will lead to official action.

Dominic Mahoney, HR director at Thomson parent company TUI UK, said the change, implemented on 4 July 2005, brings the Glasgow call centre’s working practices in line with the rest of the company’s call-centre operations and has been introduced to improve productivity and customer service.

“The break in the afternoon is beyond what they are legally entitled to,” he said. “It’s daft to have the phones ringing and people not answering them – that’s what is happening.”

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