Reflections of a call centre worker in Atento, Goiânia, Brazil

Once I read that the most difficult place to be is the other's place. Especially now those words make more sense. It’s hard to realise a colleague by my side and understand his or her complexity, I mean it in normal conditions, ordinary, I mean the day-to-day but of course when we think about call centre it worsen a little bit more since each one answers an average of 1400 calls/month, reality of the major part in the massive area of service. It seems that we have more proximity with the one who’s in telephone line than with our colleagues at our very side, divided by a cubicle like animals stalls.

Undoubtedly the other’s place is my great challenge, to forget anxiety crisis between calls, to forget for a while those inhuman goals and achievements, to forget that when the time is come I just want to leave and take a look with attention at my colleague by my side… I conclude that even before this virus catastrophe call centre was a dangerous job since it deforms human life and make us look like the machines we work with. They [the company] say human service is more satisfactory to costumers, that’s why they replaced the robotic recordings by human voices, although they don’t care if behind the computers we work like machines. We follow procedures. We meet the targets and schedules. We’re just programmed machines, we work that way, or at least it’s what they hope from us. And among all of this, of our highly alienating job, the virus happened – the death news on TV, the contagion risk. I believe this was the moment we realised we were all at the same boat. Telecommunication is considered as a essential service so we could not stop, then we claimed for work conditions, at least we fear for our lives.

The organization began from smaller groups to larger groups, there are different operations, departments, separate sectors, etc., so the comments came u from the news or from close people, family members with suspicions, the FEAR, that made us need to act. And we saw that if we didnt make decisions to save our lives, the company wouldn’t (unless they were forced to).

Our demands were claimed and met so I consider this an advance for our struggle since nothing of this came to us in attentive way. Only after simultaneous call centres workers demonstrations in our city some measure was be taken to restrain Covid-19 menace.
The demands were:

1) Provision of hand sanitizer everywhere at the company;
2) Constant cleaning of PAs [workstations] and headsets;
3) Workers relay, with minimum distance of 1 metre between the PAs (or even the isolation as our right to restrain the health problem);
4) Provision of a medic team to prevention examines;
5) Release workers who are in risk group: besides elderly people, those with chronic conditions such as: diabetic patients, hypertensives, heart conditions, asthmatics, kidney conditions, smokers (who have damaged lungs by smoking);

Once more the trouble of knowing about our colleagues, our work environment is not that proper to meet or create bonds with others. I’ve tried approaching to understand other people, know another realities, complaints, maybe someone who could add to with reports but I was unsuccessful. People usually is afraid of exposing themselves or simply don’t have interest or don’t believe in results. They have have become passive with their situation once again.

I can only speak for my own perception of things, limited for sure and does not cover all it should have to. I've looked to know about a lady I knew whose situation worried me and I found that the company had allowed holiday for her - at least they moved her away from on-site working, from the duty of catching bus with 52 years old during the pandemic. Also they distributed masks (a five masks kits for each operator). The sanitation of the PAs by the cleaning team has been daily and also a patrol with one health professional measuring workers’ body temperature intending to detect fever symptoms. This happened after we published a chapter in a book in an international publication, so we could see that worked as a pressure tool.[1] I also see the provision of hand sanitizers at several points at the company as well as they have been keep the distance of at least 1 metre between the PAs. Headsets are essential tools of our service by which we talk to customers. After our struggles the headsets are now individualised, not the way as it was before. And now, at the end of the day we took headsets off the PAs and keep it in a ziplock bag with our personal identification and at the following day only ourselves can use it.

Those were all of the new safety measures and adjustments I could notice by the improvement process of our working conditions at the company. There is still risk of infection at locomotion towards work, especially for those who depends on public transport services and the difficulty of those who work at home, who complain about lack of assistance and proper conditions to effectively do the work.

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Posted By

Invisible Educa...
Jun 30 2020 20:47


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