The chairwoman of the Call Centre Management Association has branded the TUC’s campaign to name and shame call centre managers as “regressive”.
At a call centre conference held in London, Ann-Marie Stagg claimed the union campaign to shop shoddy employers was detrimental to the sector.
She said, “I don’t think that call centres are exploiting their staff. Whatever the results of the TUC survey, we need to keep them in perspective.”
The TUC report on the sector, released last week, claims that call centre employees’ salaries are 40 per cent less than average earnings. The It’s Your Call campaign says that call handlers can earn as little as £7,500.
Call handlers in Wales are the lowest paid with an average salary of £11,100, with London’s being the highest on £14,050.
Call centres employ over 400,000 people, which is more than the coal, steel and vehicle manufacturing industries put together.
The report estimates that by 2008 there will be over 665,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the industry.
Although call centres are characterised by low pay, the report claims that the concentration of centres in areas like Glasgow and South Wales is driving up standards as employers compete with each other to keep staff. Some operators can earn over £20,000.
The survey also includes case studies which highlight the type of working conditions in call centres. When joining, one employee went on a month-long training course for which she was only paid for two weeks and she was then told she would not get the rest of her money until she has completed her probationary period, four months later.
She also claimed that she had to pay for her own headset.
By Paul Nelson