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About my job/working conditions?

(36 Posts)
Fearfulnamechange Sun 19-Nov-17 16:52:33

I need some perspective about my working conditions and environment. I'm really unhappy, probably on the verge of being signed off. But I'm not sure if it's me, or my employer is being shit. Firstly, I'm not suggesting that this is the worst job in the world or that there aren't worse employer.

I work for a large trade union, previously worked in the industry that is supported by this trade union. I work advising members who call or email for advice on employment, contracts etc. We also do some other legal contract work. Some of things that has led to me feeling so mentally unwell, most of which started when a new manage was brought in with a call centre background in the private sector:

-we must log every minute of our day. We have software which is linked to phone system. If we need the toilet we have to enter a code, breaks another code, lunch another code. These times are saved as well as how long you spend typing up noted after a call. I was recently reprimanded for going 30 secs over my break (sometimes I don't even take one!)

-there is a divide in staff, encouraged by management where some people who are mates with managers get treated favourably, and others not.

-we have had several changes in recent months, all delivered as a fair comple with no consultation. This includes a change to the way we report sickness, change to amount of time on phone vs email and other work, we are moving to a whole new building 3 miles away which has very little public transport access, the way lateness is calculated. If you attend a course far away and could have returned for the last 30 min of the day, you have to take it as flexi time.

-several members of staff placed on capability, even though the union has no capability policy.

-we have a strict seating plan, we get no say in where we sit. You cannot move to an empty desk without permission.

- the manager makes a note of who attends our own union meetings (as the one we belong to as staff). Manager has been seen 'spying' and listening into a union meeting without making it known. People who attend union meetings or challenge any changes, are treated negatively and told they are being unreasonable.

-some staff (ie the ones management don't like or see as 'troublemakers') are glares at with teacher stares of they talk to other staff - about work (we often have queries that need a little consultation with other staff).

-in the past staff have been shouted at like naughty children in open plan office.

There is so much more, but this is already so long. I'm looking for other work, but it isn't that simple. Many staff have had periods off with work related stress and mental health problems. But they manage to say that it is these people, not the environment. Basically the management buddies just say they think it's fine so anyone else is ignored.

So I is this just standard? I should point out we aren't a call centre with scripts. We advise on employment law, we speak to people who have cancer, who are bereaved, being made redundant, bullied at work, disciplinary.

AIBU, is this all standard working conditions?

fleurjasmine Sun 19-Nov-17 16:54:52

Your post goes a long way to explaining why union membership is in decline.


How awful.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Sun 19-Nov-17 16:59:31

It may well be standard for a call centre but it's hardly a productive way to manage people. Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me either. It's a shame you can't tip off a newspaper anonymously.....

ILoveMillhousesDad Sun 19-Nov-17 17:06:14

I am absolutely astounded by this. I work for a trade union and our worlds couldn't be more different.

I am amazed that a union is treating their staff like this!

They should be a model of what an employer should aspire to!!!

ilovesooty Sun 19-Nov-17 17:12:03

Was your post precipitated by the current thread on union membership?

Were you made aware of policies re bringing in new work place practices?

Were you aware before you joined if how your employment rights were protected and where you would access support?

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Sun 19-Nov-17 17:13:20

They should be a model of what an employer should aspire to!!!
Sadly in today's economy that's probably exactly what this union is in the eyes of the employers. I haven't been a member of one for 20 years due to a dissatisfaction with the relevant ones. They got more useless to specific professional groups imho when the big super unions got formed.

Sandsunsea Sun 19-Nov-17 17:17:22

Treating you more like droids than people. I’d hate it

Madonnasmum Sun 19-Nov-17 17:23:56

Some of it sounds like standard contact centre practices, like phone logging etc. From what you've explained, you sound like you are in CC environment. Perhaps the mgr style was much looser? And this new approach makes it feel much stricter, when in fact it's standard?

Katescurios Sun 19-Nov-17 17:27:18

Its standard for contact centre work. I started in call centres 18 yes ago and toilet, scheduled break and lunch codes were well established even then. As a call centre manager now I can see that there is good reason for this. If you have a busy phone line you need to make sure there are people sat available to answer the calls so breaks and lunches have to be scheduled and adhered to. Staff are a massive portion of business costs so staffing numbers have to be kept as low as possible while ensuring there are enough people to maintain Service Levels.

You should have been made aware of your targets, code usage policies and such in induction. If these things have changed then you should be briefed in full before release but they don't need to consult with you.

As long as the office move is to a location that it is a resonble distance again there is no need to consult with you.

While it isn't necessary by law to consult it is often considered best practice to engage with employees where possible to maintain morale and gain buy in.

If there are people who are being better treated though this is not on, its also stupid of your management. All it would take is one person to take evidence to their capability hearing showing that other people are doing the same and not being picked up. It would prove inconsistency in the policy adherence and give a good reason to appeal any action taken against them.

peachgreen Sun 19-Nov-17 17:32:56

I think you’ve done yourself a disservice here by listing things that are perfectly normal for a call centre (strict timekeeping, assigned desks) with things that aren’t (no capability policy, management listening in to union meetings).

Fearfulnamechange Sun 19-Nov-17 17:34:21

I think what grates is that I have to advise our members on consultation. As a union our position is that any changes to working conditions or practices should be consulted on.

The first we knew about anything was being presented with a new rule. I know they isn't have to consult. But for some people it means an enormous change of commute (because they don't drive and get public transport)

I think perhaps I just expected more of a trade union. Especially as I have to advise in one way for members, but don't get treated that way.

@ilovesooty the working practices and conditions are completely different to when I first started.

Madonnasmum Sun 19-Nov-17 18:18:36

I do think there should be consultation regarding the office move. What stage is it at? Have you raised this with your employee representative?

Fearfulnamechange Sun 19-Nov-17 18:20:56

Yes, it's been raised at branch level. One tactic is that the just refuse to meet with reps. Never reply to emails requesting meetings.

The move is happening, it is being decorated and we are moving in a few weeks. It was a done deal before we even knew about it.

Actually management mates all knew about the move way before everyone else. And then we found out by accident.

Fearfulnamechange Sun 19-Nov-17 18:23:29

If it's me, then so be it. I never would have accepted a job in a call centre environment. Being on the phone all day is exhausting.

I'm looking for other work, but there aren't hundreds of jobs put there.

@ILoveMillhousesDad it's possible we work for the same one. No other area of the union is like this

Swizzlesticks23 Sun 19-Nov-17 18:24:37

This sounds like every call center I have worked in. Not talking about sales
Roles etc professional companies who treat their staff like a heard of sheep.

If you don't like it I would look for other work they are all the same sorry.

Madonnasmum Sun 19-Nov-17 18:39:47

You could raise the office move to a higher level as I'm surprised any employer would do this without any consultation or informing.

AngryGinger Sun 19-Nov-17 19:48:35

I work in a call centre. I know exactly how you feel, people logging every second of your day feels oppressive and it’s hard to feel like an adult. I’d be looking for other jobs if I were you, you sound very unhappy.

Fearfulnamechange Sun 19-Nov-17 20:00:14

I've been suicidal about going to work sometimes. There are just so few jobs around. I'll keep applying.

The office move was taken to the highest level. Well highest in HR. The last member of staff who took their issues to the general secretary was suspended and eventually constructively dismissed.

niccyb Sun 19-Nov-17 20:40:36

This is disgusting although sounds very much like a nhs Ward I used to work on x

kinkajoukid Mon 20-Nov-17 06:44:17

It may be somewhat standard practice these days to treat people like battery chickens who have had a lobotomy, but I think it is bloody terrible and I would certainly expect better from a TU.

I don't know what to say other than I hope you find a better job really soon where you feel valued and respected.

In the meantime, try to take some small comfort in that at least you are giving a valuable service to your callers and that they will appreciate your effort (and most of whom I am sure be horrified if they knew what it was like to do your job!) flowers

Postagestamppat Mon 20-Nov-17 06:59:56

Ye gods we're in trouble if a trade union is acting like this, ignoring concerns and "disappearing" people who take things further.

Sorry no constructive advice but wishing you luck in your job search.

It is so sad that these days I feel children should choose their future careers based on working conditions and employer expectations as much what they enjoy doing. Once trade unions are going down this route, where is the protection from exploitation?

Fearfulnamechange Mon 20-Nov-17 14:46:54

I should add that when I told our rep about how if felt, he said that I was the third person to admit suicidal feelings in relation to work. Our union are working for hard for change and hopefully we'll make a difference. I think I just getting told that I'm being silly and overreacting so I wanted some objective perspective.

Fearfulnamechange Mon 20-Nov-17 14:48:18

@kinkajoukid I love the actual job, talking to members and knowing I make a difference. Many of them say how much better they feel after getting advice.

I'm sad that I have to give that up because of how it's managed is making me feel.

Love51 Mon 20-Nov-17 14:50:13

Three people getting suicide ideation - it isn't you being silly. Can you go to ACAS?

JaniceBattersby Mon 20-Nov-17 14:57:42

Sounds appalling.

I guess your options are limited, given you can’t exactly complain to the union.

Honestly, I’d speak anonymously to a reporter. I am happy to help you with some names of reputable and scrupulous reporters I know, or generally you could try Channel Four News who I know would be even handed.

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