Fair pay demanded for VVS operators

Telecoms & Financial Services May 29 2019

Pay rates for those fielding 999 calls and a plethora of other public service call streams completely fail to reflect the increasing complexity and stress of the job and need revising upwards.

That was the verdict of CWU Annual Conference which unanimously committed the union to seek a grading assessment of a role which has become increasingly complicated in recent years, with operators now routinely switching between multiple call streams, all of which carry very different demands and expectations.

Proposing the grading review on behalf of members at BT Ventures Voice Services’ six UK call centres, Erin Massey of Northern Ireland Telecom explained: “The UK-wide public service they provide includes operator services at 100 and 155 (international), 999, Text Relay services for the hard of hearing and deaf, directory enquiries for the blind and disabled and also regular Directory Enquiries for 70-plus licensed operators and, more recently in Northern Ireland, the NI Direct Flooding Line.

“All these call streams have their own particular procedure, processes and targets, with the 999 service holding a 100 per cent target expectation with no exception because of the nature of the calls.”

“One second you can be dealing with a critical 999 call where someone is in their most desperate time of need, then you flick into another call with a little old lady asking what time of day it is.

“Calls are so constant and relentless, with barely even the time to take a breath in-between – and a large percentage of these calls are extremely traumatising, abusive and stressful.”

Pointing out the profound emotional impact that tragic recent events, including Grenfell Tower and the Manchester Arena and London attacks had on VVS operators, Erin continued: “Thankfully those events are not so common, but that of car accidents, drownings, suicides, domestic violence and child physical and sexual abuse, to name but a few, are daily scenarios that leave a constant scar on the memories of advisers who are the first point of contact to all the poor people involved in these tragic events.

Read the full story on the CWU website here