This week’s letters

TUC’s campaign is scaremongering

I find the call centre campaign by
the TUC to be nothing more than a high-profile recruitment exercise aimed at
encouraging call centre employees to join trade unions (News, 27 February).

The number of calls received by the
TUC in the first week of the campaign totalled nearly 400, which is only 0.1
per cent of the 400,000 people employed in the industry in the UK.

Having looked at the recent press
and information provided by the TUC, I would have to question the validity of
the exercise and wonder what checks the TUC put in place to determine the
authenticity of the callers and of the allegations made. This type of
scaremongering by the TUC can have only an adverse effect on call centre
recruitment and the image of call centres.

I have no doubt that some call
centres will need to improve their working practices, but some of the
allegations made against the industry suggest that some organisations are
deliberately flouting current employment legislation. If this were the case, we
would surely have a high volume of employment tribunal applications from call
centre staff.

I am not opposed to trade union
involvement through recognition or otherwise, but feel the TUC campaign throws
a blanket over all call centre organisations in highlighting specific cases of
"unreasonable treatment" from its report, It’s Your Call.

William Martin, Edinburgh

Emulate the best,
don’t shame worst

The TUC’s recent report on badly
treated agents in UK call centres, It’s Your Call, is looking at the issue from
the wrong angle (News, 27 February).

I believe it should put its weight
behind encouraging companies to emulate the best, rather than naming and
shaming the worst.   

It is true that some call centres use
the least modern management techniques, but to tar them all with the same brush
is unfair.

According to a Financial Times
survey last year, up to 85 per cent of a call centre’s running costs over five
years are related to staff. Estimates as to how much it costs to replace an
agent vary from £1,500 to £7,500 an agent but, with staff turnover rates quoted
in the TUC survey as being up to 30 per cent, this represents a substantial
drain on time and money.

If the TUC really wants to benefit
its members, it should be encouraging call centre senior management to treat
staff as individuals, involving them in their own development and offering them
quality training. This would increase the level of service to customers and
improve staff motivation and productivity – a true win-win situation for all.

Veronica Winterton,
senior business consultant,
TC Group

Policy on age bias
misses the point

Once again the Government seems set
to show how adept it is at missing the main issue and concentrating instead on
what looks like it might make good headlines (News, 20 February).

What on earth makes it think that
ending a compulsory retirement age will prevent age discrimination against
those seeking work? The two issues are totally separate and have no bearing on
each other.

The problem the Government was
seeking to tackle, but has missed, was the blatant discrimination against
anyone older than 40 securing a job in mainstream industry and commerce.

B&Q, Homebase and others are to
be congratulated on their initiatives to employ older staff. However, retailing
does not hold much attraction for senior managers from industry, who now find
it difficult to find suitable work once over 40. Retailing has traditionally
worked unsocial hours for low pay and perhaps their motives are led by staff
shortages rather than altruism.

Removing a compulsory retirement
age will do nothing to stop such discrimination. What it will do is create
chaos in all aspects of the employment process, not least state and
occupational pension provision.

Roger Brown, senior partner, Endale
& Company

New temp rules to help recruitment

The easing of the rules about the
hiring of temporary staff as permanent members will be a boost to employers
seeking to recruit staff (News, 6 February).

In many cases it will allow
employers to get a clear idea of what someone can do in the workplace and
therefore help to slim down the recruitment process.

Jim Kelleher, via e-mail

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