Call centre staff take pay protest to clients' offices

Locked out call-centre staff at the South Auckland branch of a transnational market research firm will be picketing outside the company's clients' offices today as part of their pay dispute action.

The 24 union members have been locked out for four days, after refusing to take either the offered 20c pay rise or pull out of the union, Unite organiser Omar Hamed said.

The telephone interviewers were asking for a 50c-an-hour pay rise, which would take their wage to about 4 per cent above the minimum wage level, Mr Hamed said.

They also wanted 12 hours' notice of roster changes, rather than finding out they were not working after arriving at work.

"They're not rich people by any stretch of the imagination."

But Synovate managing director Ian Mills said the union members had already been offered a 3 per cent pay rise, and with added performance bonuses would easily equal the 4 per cent wanted by union negotiators.

Two carloads of Unite union members had come to his house at 6.30am yesterday, shouting messages into megaphones about him being a sinner, he said. Mr Mills said the action had traumatised his children.

His company was struggling to keep jobs in New Zealand, and at least three other call centres in Auckland had recently closed with the loss of more than 600 jobs.

In total, Synovate employed about 200 people, he said.

Today the members will take their grievances to Synovate's clients, picketing outside a number of banks in Auckland and the Ministry of Social Development in Wellington.


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