COVID 19: survey lifts lid on widespread fear among call centre workers in Scotland and across the UK

May 5th 2020

COVID 19: survey lifts lid on widespread fear among call centre workers in Scotland and across the UK

May 5th 2020

STUC voices major fears for the health of workers and says report casts a dark shadow on future plans for increasing the numbers attending the workplace.

Nearly 3000 respondents have written almost 200,000 words of testimony to the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had and is having on them, their colleagues and families. One commented: ‘Call centres are like petri dishes and it is very easy for something to be passed around, especially during a pandemic’.

• Over 8O% believe that it is likely that that will catch Covid-19’ with over 90% agreeing with the statement, ‘I am worried I will give Covid-19 to family or friends’.

• Seven in ten (69.7%) said they were currently ‘very scared,’ an increase from 58% seven days previously.

• Providing a stark warning of problems to come when return to work is considered, 59% reported that they were either ‘much more worried’ or even ‘terrified’ at the prospect of having to attend their workplace.

• 37.8% of respondents stated that they were seated less than the required 2 metres, with one in six (16.4%) reporting that they were a mere 1.5 metres distant or less.

• Whilst half of workers reported that the 2m rule was being applied for desk arrangements, almost three-quarters (73%) believed that social distancing when moving around the building was either ‘hazardous’ or ‘very hazardous’.

• Forty-five per cent consider management to have been either ‘ineffective’ or ‘very ineffective’ in ‘taking the necessary steps to ensure social distancing’.

• A sizeable number raised the fact that providing face masks would be an important initiative in instilling confidence for call-handlers when having to leave their desks and circulate. However, an answer to another question demonstrated that only 4.3% of those surveyed reported that their organisation had taken such a measure that could be hugely significant for workers’ physical safety

Responding to the report, STUC General Secretary Designate, Rozanne Foyer says:

**“Many call centre workers are key workers and have been undervalued in terms of the work they do and the reward they receive. This is reflected in the way many are being treated during this crisis when it comes to health and safety.

“The report reveals high levels of fear and anxiety, clear and systemic breaches of guidelines and, in many cases, a working environment which is prone to the spread of illness and disease. It confirms information we have been receiving through direct contact from call centre workers. Hundreds more have contacted MPs and MSPs because the employer does not recognise a trade union.

“Professor Taylor’s report is invaluable because it reveals not only the depth of the problem but also shows that this is not inevitable. A minority of call centres are getting this right and others need to urgently learn from this.

“The survey is ongoing. We urge call centre workers to respond to this so that we can build the fullest possible picture of what needs to be done. It is vital that workers join a union and that employers open up their doors to union organisers and health and safety reps, so that we can being to get this situation sorted.**

ENDS

For further details: Dave Moxham 07891026870

Survey link: https://phil.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/covid19-call-centre-back-office-workers_savelives

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