the templates of the 'contact center' rise up against their employer

Teleworking at the expense of employees in the contact center sector, a sector with an average salary of “800 euros”, the unions stress. "Not one euro," says a worker and manager of CGT. The union criticized a few days ago the widespread non-payment of compensation for remote work in the sector, also known as telemarketing, despite the fact that it is required by the Teleworking Law. CCOO and UGT have also denounced this situation in a press conference, in addition to the "blocking" of the collective agreement by the employer, the Association of Customer Experience Companies (CEX), with which they maintain significant differences in salary increases . This month there will be two strike days: on May 13, called by CCOO and UGT, and on May 26, organized by CGT.

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The two days of strike this month are added to the partial stoppages and the mobilizations that the unions have organized since March in the sector, which employs "about 120,000 people", many of them women. USO, although it is not the convener of the strikes this May, has also denounced the "blockade of the negotiation of the agreement", which ended its validity in 2019. From the union they confirm to that teleworking "is not compensated".

The Remote Work Law It expressly obliges companies to compensate the expenses derived from teleworking to their staff, an issue that can be defined in collective bargaining. All the unions denounce that the vast majority of the sector, which is mostly monopolized by five companies (Konecta, Atento, Intelcia, Majorel and Teleperformance), do not pay their staff anything for teleworking. “Only Majorel pays”, explained Chema Martínez, general secretary of the Federation of CCOO Services. has asked the CEX employers about these non-payments, but they have replied that they are not going to “make any kind of declarations so as not to interfere in the negotiations of the collective agreement”.

There is no longer exceptional teleworking due to the pandemic

The usual argument of companies in the sector (and many others) to justify non-compliance with teleworking regulations points to the exceptional nature of the pandemic, which allowed the deployment of this tool without fulfilling all its guarantees to avoid contagion. COVID has served as a pretext for some companies, although in many cases the exceptionality has not been sustained for months and, in the current context, much less so.

The Ministry of Labor itself dismantled this argument, even before the end of indoor masks, in a CGT consultation. “It seems difficult to understand that measures are currently maintained that justify the application of remote work” due to the pandemic “since these measures should, at the very least, have a similar entity to those that were part of any of the approved states of alarm. since March 2020. Currently, the inexistence of measures of this category is manifest”, replied the General Director of Labor, Verónica Martínez.

In many cases, the staff not only do not receive compensation for the expenses derived from teleworking (such as electricity), but also have to use their own equipment to work: helmets, computers, mobile phones and furniture such as chairs and tables, which are not They are ready for work. "With the pandemic, we working people have made our kitchens, our rooms, our lounges available," explained Maria Pedraza, a worker in the sector since the 1980s and head of UGT. “These are expenses that these companies have been saving, with profits higher than those of 2019 and now they are proposing some increases [salariales] ridiculous”, criticizes Pedraza.

Salary increases of 2.5% in a thriving sector

CCOO and UGT have also denounced the wage increases proposed by the employers in the agreement as "ridiculous" and "an insult" given the growth in income in the sector and high inflation, which stood at 8.4% in April. The CEX has put on the table the freezing of wages in 2020, "despite the fact that the sector increased its business that year even in a pandemic”, have criticized the representatives of the templates.

For 2021 the increase would be 0.8%, and in 2022 and 2023 the increase could reach 2.5% per year, "without salary review clauses" according to the evolution of prices, as the unions claim at the state level. The unions flatly reject this offer. "Since the last agreement, there is a loss of 16% of the purchasing power of these workers," said Antonio Oviedo, general secretary of the Federation of Services, Mobility and Consumption of UGT.

The average salary in the sector reaches "800 euros" per month, with a high weight of part-time shifts, which the unions dismiss as unjustified in many cases. Several professional categories of the previous agreement have already fallen below the minimum interprofessional salary (SMI), of 1,000 euros gross per month, warn the unions.

The workers demand an improvement in remuneration in a sector that puts the voice and daily attention of the clients of large multinationals, such as financial entities, telephone companies and insurers. “But also the public administrations”, the CCOO and UGT have recalled this Tuesday, for example in numerous emergency services. CCOO and UGT warn that, if the bosses do not change their attitude, they will call one day of strike a month.

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