Telescreens at Telepreformance
At the end of March, The Guardian reported that the Teleperformance call centre company would introduce TP Observer and a remotely viewing webcam for its 10,000 plus staff in the UK working from home. TP Observer would use face recognition and track “real-time employee behaviour, and detects any violations to pre-set business rules.”
Originally Teleperformance stated that the Webcams for the UK would only be used for meetings and training and scheduled video calls when supervisors. However, it appears that the system can scan a workplace for breaches at random times during a shift and detect when a worker is idle at their desk.
Teleperformance currently operates two call centres in Northern Ireland, one in Newry and another in Bangor, providing outsourced customer service for government bodies and corporations. Teleperformance Newry has, due to cities unrelenting death of opportunities, became one of the areas biggest employers, with 750 – 1200 workers. Staff often experience verbal abuse from callers while management continues to set demanding performance targets. Despite the layout, workers are often isolated due to calls. They are often unable to engage with their colleagues during lulls in calls.
Conditions have led to a high turn around in new starts at the centres, which has hindered previous attempts to organise. Inability to socialise or discuss conditions have also hampered attempts. Fear not, though. Management granted staff an Employee Forum, a union in all but action. With workers now operating from home for the foreseeable, new strategies will be required to organise workers.
Since the Guardian story broke, TP has seemed to have backtracked on the plans, at least where webcams are concerned. But the issue still remains with the possible roll-out of the TP Observer system. This system would, in effect, chain workers to their station.
P. Fox IWW Ireland