The call centre

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers
Vice-President, Atlantic Region

What comes to mind first is what kind of industry exists at this time. So many plants have disappeared over the years, in pulp and paper, textile, etc. They have been replaced with call centres. In the call centres, the problem is not so much with accidents, but it is mainly one of burn out. People who are going to work in the call centres, they have to go there, they are coming from their industries that have disappeared. Now, the skilled trades people who have lost their jobs in the Atlantic region, they are all gone, they went to work in Alberta. What was left were men and women in production. The only places they could go were in the call centres.

Workers face depression. Most of the call centres are not unionized and there are so many fly-by-night companies. As soon as we try to unionize them, they are gone. They have opened so many of them in the Atlantic Region. As soon as a factory closes, there is a call centre popping up. The government assists these companies in setting up. They are being offered $20,000 or $25,000 for each job created, as long as it lasts for a set period of time.

These workers have no training for this kind of job. They are not used to the kind of pressure of this kind of work. Call centres even have cry rooms where workers go when they can't take it anymore. Some of these call centres are huge, they have sometimes up to 1,000 workers. Sometimes, they will take malls that have closed and they transform them into call centres. We organized one in Bathurst. The day after we got accredited, the company was gone. These are work related accidents of which nobody speaks. These workers are pushed to the extreme and they have no security. If the companies are not happy with them, or for any other reason, they fire them. Like in Port Hawkesbury, the city has 12,000 people and 1,000 work in call centres. Moncton has about 190,000 people and I would say that about 15,000 people work in call centres.

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