Council backs Derry Call Centre campaign

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Call centres have been described as the new shirt factories by a Councillor.

Proposing that Derry City and Strabane Council support the Derry Call Centre Campaign and encourage all call center workers to join it, Cllr Shaun Harkin said: “As we know there are many, many people who are working in call centres. Many workers are dependent on call centres for employment and that’s why it’s been termed by some as the new shirt factories.

“The shirt factory workers had trade union rights a long time ago, they joined trade unions in huge numbers and that gave particularly women a lot of collective confidence in this city.

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“We believe that call centre workers, like all workers, deserve the exact same and so that’s why this initiative is very, very important. This initiative is happening in the context of a cost of living crisis, where workers’ pay is collapsing in the face of inflation and the cost of living pressures on people are not easing.


“This campaign is giving workers in the call centres the opportunity to join trade unions and to gain a collective voice so that they can attempt to improve their pay and improve their collective rights and that’s the core of this and I think it’s a great campaign and I hope that it succeeds.”

The People Before Profit councillor’s motion also called for council to invite representatives from the campaign to the chamber for a presentation.

Offering his party’s support, Sinn Féin Colr Conor Heaney stated:“Call centre workers do a very difficult job and are quite usually relatively low paid. Every worker has a right to be a member of a union if they so wish to be so we have no difficulty supporting this motion.”

SDLP Colr Brian Tierney commented:

PBP’s Shaun Harkin.PBP’s Shaun Harkin.
PBP’s Shaun Harkin.

“There was a call not long after I came into council around trade union recognition but unfortunately that campaign didn’t really take to get the legs. It seems that this one has, it seems to have workers from a few different call centres coming together to lead this one.”

“There could be allowances for more breaks and longer breaks between calls, and things like that, which would improve their daily working life. So we fully support the campaign.”

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Aontu Councillor Emmet Doyle said there had been instances of ‘timing people going to the toilet like you were in primary school, and timing you down to the very last second’ in some workplaces.

“The only way to address that is by collectivism within the workplace.”

Representatives of all parties voiced their support for the motion which passed unanimously.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter