Auckland call centre workers strike
12pm Tuesday 9/12/08
Auckland call centre workers strike at Australian owned call centre
All twenty-seven market research interviewers working on Monday night at the SurveyTalk call centre in Auckland walked off the job last night, angry at their Australian bosses continued refusal to improve pay rates, health and safety and allow workers to take annual leave like all other research call centre employees can.
The strike is the first strike of the Calling for Change campaign. The Unite Union represents around 400 research workers who are negotiating with research bosses to win union contracts with improved conditions, rates of pay and healthy workplaces at nine of New Zealand’s major market research companies.
Every day of the week the “SurveyTalk” call centre in the Auckland shopping district of Newmarket carries out market research on behalf of major Australian corporations such as Telstra Clear and AMP as well as on behalf of Australia’s leading newspapers like the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
At 7pm each night workers are crammed into an unsafe, stressful, unhygienic call centre environment, monitored by a video camera on the wall from Sydney. If asked where they are calling from workers are told to lie and say they are calling from Paddington, Sydney.
The outsourced call centre is an attempt by SurveyTalk to avoid paying the good union-won rates of pay and safe working conditions that must be observed in Australia.
“Most Auckland SurveyTalk workers earn about NZ$13 an hour or half of what Sydney SurveyTalk workers get (A$21.05). It’s a disgrace that workers relied upon by major Australian corporations for market intelligence are being treated like battery hens. As long as SurveyTalk ignores our reasonable claims for living wages and full work rights the possibility of ongoing strike action at their Auckland call centre will continue,” said Unite National Director Mike Treen.
“Workers have no job security and have never had the opportunity to take paid holidays because they are treated as casuals despite some with regular work for the last 4 years. They regularly have their pay date moved and do not even have the most basic of health and safety items available such as anti-septic wipes to clean shared workstations, headsets and mouthpieces before use. We’ve been discussing these issues with SurveyTalk for months but their Australian bosses seem not to care about how they treat New Zealand workers.”
“We had no choice but to strike at this call centre and send a message to SurveyTalk bosses and call centre employers and employees in Australia and New Zealand that workers have rights and we are going to fight for them,” concluded Mr. Treen.