The CWU has held a further meeting with Telstra about its proposal to reduce rest breaks for workers in call centres in Maryborough, Toowoomba and Melbourne.
The centres affected handle the “premium” directories services 1234 and Call Connect as well as Directory Assistance 1223 and a small number of international directory calls.
Telstra argues that the proposed changes reflect a decline in both the volume of calls being handled by employees and in the occupancy rate at the centres (the percentage of scheduled work time actually spent on calls).
In other words, Telstra argues that the work is less intense than it was back in 1997 when the current rest breaks in these centres were first negotiated by the CWU.
CWU members don’t agree. Employees at these centres still handle large volumes of calls and are under constant pressure to deliver a prompt, accurate and friendly service. The work they perform is highly repetitive, while at the same time it is not simply mechanical but involves problem solving.
The CWU believes that the health and safety risks involved in reducing rest breaks for employees performing this work are real and that an independent risk assessment of the proposal should be carried out before any change is implemented.
Discussions continue. Members will be kept informed of developments.