‘Exploitation’ at BT call centre blasted by union

NDOS only'CWU protest about the exploitation of agency workers at the BT Call Centre on Wilmington Drive at Lakeside Doncaster
NDOS only'CWU protest about the exploitation of agency workers at the BT Call Centre on Wilmington Drive at Lakeside Doncaster
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UNION protesters have blasted BT at a demonstration outside its Doncaster call centre, accusing the telecommunications giant of exploiting its workers.

Members of the Communication Workers Union say agency workers are being unfairly hit by a loophole in the law.

The union claims more than 120 agency workers are on ‘pay between assignment’ contracts which means that, after 12 weeks, instead of receiving pay equal to that of directly-employed staff, they remain on as little as £7 an hour - around £5 an hour less than other call centre staff.

CWU spokesman Tracey Fussey said: “It’s not fair that agency workers should be prevented from the equal pay they’re entitled to because of these sneaky contracts which sign away their rights.

“Both agencies and hirers are at fault for choosing to use these contracts instead of sticking to the spirit of the law.

“We’re asking companies and agencies to stop using these contracts. Most people signing up with an agency don’t realise what rights they’re signing away and it’s irresponsible and dishonest to exploit workers in this way.”

A spokesman for the BT call centre, based in Wilmington Drive, where union members handed out leaflets, said: “BT is recognised for offering employees highly competitive reward packages, which we benchmark across the industry regularly.

“We negotiate pay at a national level with our recognised trade unions and we are very confident we have appropriate pay levels for both our employees and the business.

“In 2012, our investment plans created around 2,000 permanent jobs, including the opening of four new UK call centres and recruitment of engineers to support our fibre broadband rollout. Many agency staff took the opportunity to move in to these permanent new roles at the time.

“We expect to continue investing in permanent UK call centre jobs during 2013 and, in line with the Agency Workers Regulations, these jobs will be highlighted to agency employees who may apply for the new roles we create.

“However, many people prefer agency roles due to the flexibility they offer and feel that the job fits their lifestyle better than a permanent BT role.

“While it is inappropriate for BT to comment on the status of employment contracts between agency people and their employer, BT is fully aligned with the Agency Workers Regulations where Pay Between Assignment contracts exist, and acts in accordance with the law.”