A plan to tackle sickness rates of up to 35% and high turnover in call centres in the UK is to get British government backing, it was announced today.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that half of a £249,000 (€371,200) project which will run for two years in the North West will be funded by her department.
Sickness and absence rates in call centres are as high as 35% while turnover in some of the offices is 25%.
The North West has the highest concentration of call centres in the UK, with 650 offices across the region.
Ms Hewitt will tell a Unions 21 conference in London today that workers in call centres were highly skilled customer service professionals driving business success.
“But we want to raise more of our call centres to the standard of the best. The key aims of this project are lower sick rates, better partnerships and higher productivity.”
The project will study access to occupational health services and how to improve the office environment.
The government aid will come from its partnership fund, which has given more than £9m (€13.4m) to 250 projects since it was launched in 1999.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber will tell the conference that union/government relations were at a low ebb.
“Few in the unions believe that the government really shares our ambitions for the world of work.”
Mr Barber said the failure to tackle the so-called two-tier workforce in the NHS and other public services, long working hours and the blocking of European moves on agency working were current obstacles.
“Momentum has been lost in the second term. It’s not that there have not been some advances, but we know that many things have gone wrong, or been spoilt by half-hearted implementation.
“On top of that some progressive European initiatives have been blocked by the government.”