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Archive for 2. August 2008

Interview mit einer marokkanischen Gewerkschafterin zur Arbeit in Callcentern

Posted by entdinglichung - 2. August 2008

Nachfolgendes Interview von der Webseite des ITUC mit der marokkanischen Gewerkschaftsktivistin Laïla Nassimi von der CDT gibt eine guten Einblick in die Zustände in marokkanischen Callcentern. Französische, belgische und schweizerische Firmen haben in den letzten Jahren – vergleichbar mit britischen oder us-amerikanischen Unternehmen, welche Callcenter in Indien aufbauten oder unter Vertrag nahmen – v.a. in den Maghrebstaaten Callcenter eröffnen lassen, da dort französischsprachige ArbeiterInnen verfügbar sind, welche gezwungen sind, ihre Arbeitskraft für ein Bruchteil des in Europa gezahlten Lohnes zu verkaufen:

Spotlight interview with Laïla Nassimi (Morocco – CDT)

Morocco’s first unionised call centre

Brussels, 30 July 2008 (ITUC OnLine): The number of call centres in Morocco is constantly on the rise. The young, qualified workers they employ face high levels of stress and contempt for their cultural identity. Speaking out against the investors exploiting the flaws in Morocco’s labour legislation, Laïla Nassimi wants to see more contact between trade unions around the world and appeals for international solidarity in the fight for decent work in the globalised call centre industry.

How did you start out in the call centre sector?

I started working in the sector at the age of 15. I was studying at the same time and managed to build up a good customer base for myself working for a French market research firm. I’m now 46 years old and work for Sitel Maroc, which has three sites in Morocco, two in Casablanca and one in Rabat, employing 1500 people in total. Sitel Maroc is linked to Sitel France, which is part of the U.S. multinational Sitel. We work for customers such as HP, Orange, Wanadoo and a number of big French insurance, fiduciary advice and telesales companies.

I have also experienced working in a call centre that sold scam products. It was run by the type of French investor that turns up here with a single contract, opens a call centre platform and employs people on fixed-term, part-time contracts. You have to sell all kinds of rubbish… and afterwards it’s the Moroccans who are said to be swindlers! It is our country’s image that’s at stake. I soon left that job, I couldn’t stand it, it makes you feel immoral. There are 300 call centres in Casablanca; they are sprouting like mushrooms. The problem is the investors’ motives: they want to exploit the flaws in Morocco’s labour legislation. Many of them are also taking advantage of the 100% tax break for the first five years and the 50% exemption for the five years following that.

What is the typical profile of a call centre employee?

Sitel Maroc generally employs young men and women aged between 20 and 25, for whom this is their first job, and who are often highly qualified (having completed at least 2 to 3 years of higher education). It is the “cream” of our youth. They are paid a starting wage of 3500 dirhams (around €350) a month. That may seem like a lot on the Moroccan market, but it’s nothing compared with the profitability of the services offered. At least DH 6000 would have to be paid if anyone were to consider doing this job long term, especially given the health hazards and the costs they imply.

The first call centres that set up here were expecting to pay a minimum wage of about 7000 dirhams (approx. €700), but Moroccan employers campaigned for it to be brought down to between 3500 and 6000 dirhams at the most. The young people working in the sector have no experience and are afraid of losing their jobs, so they agree to anything. Many of them only leave when they are really burnt out. Most of them suffer in silence; they have taken out mortgages and are trapped.

What problems do you face in terms of working conditions?

We work full time, whilst our counterparts in Europe only work part time given the highly stressful nature of the job. We work a full 8 hours from 6.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during French winter time, and our breaks are not counted in the working hours. We have to take our lunch break at 10 a.m. Moroccan time, so as to coincide with lunchtime in France. We’re completely out of phase, and on top of that we have to remain connected and ready to answer a call if required. Some call centres work around the clock with three teams working 8-hour shifts.

What are the stress factors?

The employees are under constant surveillance, being listened to and checked on. That’s a major stress factor. In the morning, you start work and you hear “good morning everyone, this is Miss X who will be monitoring your calls from La Rochelle (a town in France)…”. Each team is given a mark based on this monitoring. If someone is ill and brings down the result, the whole team is penalised. We become like machines, robots. Many of us suffer from backache, loss of hearing, depression, migraines, and rheumatism because of the air conditioning. My desk is located just beneath an air conditioning vent, and I have really bad rheumatism. There are one hundred people on a single plateau with very low ceilings. The working environment is totally inadequate. There are also quite a lot of nutritional disorders, as we cannot take our meals at the usual times. I once saw a woman suddenly throw off her headset, run to the window and faint. She was given water and sugar and went back to work. We have asked for an infirmary, but don’t yet have it. As regards safety, if there were a fire, we’d be done for. The courtyard has been turned into a cafeteria, the emergency stairs are too narrow for the amount of employees and the boss has put bars up in a number of places that would block our exit.

Do the women face any specific problems?

The women usually work more assiduously, but they fall ill more often, as they stress more. Their right to three months’ maternity leave is respected, but at many call centres the women coming back from maternity leave have to work double to make up for lost time, and they can forget about any hopes of career advancement. Sexual harassment is also a problem. There are lots of young, very pretty and well-educated women, who speak three languages…. Many of the expat executives take advantage of this, which explains quite a few of the job promotions we see. The young women are often from good families who have put a lot of money into their education, but their daughters are very soon denigrated.

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