Low wages, precarious employment, permanent pressure and supervision, stress and noise pollution: These are all part of everyday life in the open-plan offices of call centers.
In many of these companies, so-called bonus programs are in place. Those who make many and short phone calls are paid the full bonus. Those who stay below that level receive less bonus or no bonus at all. Of course, the bonus doesn’t work in reality as a friendly supplement to the regular salary. On the contrary, it is nothing more than a penalty system and failure to reach the work targets leads to deductions from the planned and required income. It is the whip of the carrot and the stick that is supposed to motivate the workers.
This is what Fatima’s working day looked like. She worked for several months in a Duisburg call center until a few weeks ago when she was fired. Why exactly she does not know. Cost-cutting measures by the company, talks with colleagues about the formation of a worker’s council or resistance against the constant rush to work?
As a thank you for leaving Fatima was infected with the SarsCov2 virus and fell ill with Covid-19. More than 200 employees work in each shift, using the same computers, kitchens and toilets as the previous shift of 200 people. When the Corona pandemic began, her superiors placed a table with tea and cough drops in the office. Due to the time pressure that constantly hangs over the break, many of her co-workers would not have washed or disinfected their hands properly. A co-worker who reported that she had contracted the novel coronavirus was not sent home as she did not show any symptoms. She cannot say how many more of her former co-workers have become infected.
So while for weeks the media has been buzzing with the spectre of the so-called Corona parties, ignorant youths are being mocked and in many cities you are not even allowed to sit alone on a park bench to read a book outdoors, tens of thousands of workers still have to go to their workplaces every day. No politician or virologist can explain why the virus will not spread there of all places.
It was the greed of the capitalists for profit and their state support, which led to the fact that nothing was done in Germany before the uncontrolled spread of the virus began, which even now exposes many people unnecessarily to the danger of infection and already now bangs the drums for the protective measures to be eased as soon as possible.
With a symbolic action we have drawn attention to the working conditions in Duisburg call centers. There is a group on Telegram, which was formed due to the crisis, for the workers to exchange info and organize themselves.