The ASU has been campaigning for many years to improve Australia's call centres for those working in the industry.
The call centre industry is a major employer in Australia and an integral part of our nation's economy. The ASU wants to make sure all call centre workers enjoy the same, high level working conditions and that all workers are being valued and paid fairly.
Watch this video from our international affiliate UNI Global Union which shows the common threads for contact centre workers everywhere:
Learn here why you should join your union if you work in a call centre anywhere in the world: Contact Centre Week of Action - Why join a union?
Following is a summary of the ASU’s coverage in this sector. It is not exhaustive, so if you do not see your position or employer listed, you may still be eligible for ASU membership. Feel free to make an inquiry.
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More than ten years ago the ASU undertook a national survey aimed at making call centres across Australia better places to work. Since then, the ASU has championed many important achievements that have made call centres healthier and safer places to work. We also ran another industry-wide survey in 2008-2009 (more below).
These improvements have included the development of a code of practice and a guide to Occupational Health and Safety and the introduction of the Contract Call Centre Award (contact your ASU Branch for information on the current award).
The ASU is concerned that significant unfair employment practices still exist and turnover rates continue to be high. We also want to find out about the good things that are happening in our call centres.
The ASU launched the "It's your call: improving Australian call centres for workers - 2009 Survey Report", an analysis of the results of our second major survey of the industry in ten years.
The results of our survey revealed a number of issues confronting call centre workers but stress in particular has been a significant factor. As a result, the ASU has released a Stress-o-meter specifically designed to help call centre workers assess their stress levels and find relevant resources.
For more information, please have a look at the full 2009 Survey Report or the 2009 Survey Report Summary. Information to assist with workplace stress and other issues can also be found in the "Industry resources" section below.
There were over 1,500 responses and the survey results have been analysed and the report was launched on 19 November 2009.
The survey was designed to give a snapshot of what is like to work in the industry today and will assist the ASU in making further improvements. Further changes need to be made so all call centre workers can enjoy the same working conditions and protections.
Visit the ASU's Stress-o-meter, a tool specially designed to help call centre workers figure out their stress levels and find resources.
The ASU-Victorian Private Sector Branch developed, with the support of WorkSafe Victoria's Return to Work Fund, a series of resources to assist with stress claims. You can download the PDFs here:
- Injured Workers Guide to Best Practice Return to Work for a Stress Injury
- Employers Guide to Best Practice Return to Work for a Stress Injury
- Support Persons Guide to Best Practice Return to Work for a Stress Injury
Download WorkSafe Victoria's Preventing work-related stress - examples of risk control measures
For an array of resources to deal with stress in the workplace, please visit WorkSafe Victoria's stress page.
Occupational health & safety (OHS)
The Good Practice Guide for Occupational Health & Safety in Call Centres was part of the call centre health and safety project.
Headset Safety Resource Kit - A Resource Guide for Call Centre Employees and Health and Safety Delegates.
Acoustic Shock Information Sheet: "acoustic shock" injuries are thought to occur when a loud and unexpected sound - a shriek or spike - comes down the line and into the call centre worker's headset.
Skills and training
Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) "develops competency standards and qualifications for workforce skills development and training that are recognised throughout Australia."
The Call Centre Minimum Standards Code sets out a framework to deliver basic rights for call centre employees.
"For some, it pays to heed the call of the public sector", The Age, September 7, 2007. An article by a senior academic from the Monash Uni Graduate School of Business (Professor Julian Teicher) reports favorably on unionised, public sector call centres with more career opportunities, less turnover and more job security than private sector call centres.
The publication ASU Survey Results: can call centres be better places to work? brings together the results of the survey conducted by the ASU in 1999-2000. The key findings are the focus of the publication, along with suggested solutions.
The ground breaking new international report A World on the Phone documents a day in the life of call centre workers around the world, including a few ASU members.