sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
[personal profile] sarasvati
I won't say that I'm not grateful for my job. My job has allowed me to get out of the shithole I lived in for almost 5 years, and will give me enough money and hours to pay off my debt to Daniel. I'm grateful for having the job.

What I'm not grateful for is the way that the company seems designed to fuck me at every turn. I already wrote a post about why it dropped numerous balls during training, which was bad enough. Well, it got worse. In many ways that pissed off enough people that at least a quarter of the people working yesterday were on the verge of walking out right there and then. One person broke down in tears at the news we got yesterday.

Start at the beginning? Don't mind if I do.

So among other things, we found out the real reasons that our CSP training was immediately after our billing training. The original plan was to give us two weeks of billing training, then have us on the phones for three or so weeks, then they'd pull those they felt could handle the extra work back into the classroom and give them training on CSP. As it was, the company couldn't actually get all of our computers and programs working by the end of the two weeks, so they bumped up CSP training and made it mandatory for everyone.

Okay, that was pissy, but at least I can sort of see why it was done. Even if our stuff should have been ready for us when it was supposed to have been.

One of the things we were all worried about was a piece of paper we'd all signed regarding the pay. It said that any training done within the first 90 days of employment would be paid at $9 an hour, and production hours on the phones would be at $11 an hour. Which, to be blunt, didn't seem fair in light of the original plan. Pay us $9 for two weeks, put us to work on the phones for $11 for a few weeks, then dock our pay because we're actually good enough to learn extra skills?

I'd like to point out that to the best of my knowledge, this is the only call centre in the city that pays their employees only minimum wage for training. Other call centres pay you the same wages you'll get when you hit the floor. I can see the merit in this, since a lot of people go to call centres and stick out the training to get decent wages but them quit as soon as they have real work to do, so this method prevents some of that. But when tyhe above scenario happens, what's to be done? It's unfair to expect employees to take lower pay for a time because they've proven themselves competent!

So we asked about that. And we were assured by somebody in Human Resources that because it was originally going to be supplemental training, we'd be paid $11 an hour for the CSP stuff. Yay, we all thought. That sounds wonderful!

Until the paycheque fiasco hit. When we received our paycheques for the time that this stuff fell under, we all noticed something odd. In addition to them forgetting to pay us time-and-a-half for the holiday that we worked, we were only paid $9 an hour for the CSP training.

What the fuck?

So we questioned it. And were told that oops, it was a mistake from head office, they'll fix it as soon as they're able. Which became, "We'll just add on the money to your next paycheque."

Which fucked over many people, because it was the lay paycheque of November. There goes the money I was going to us to buy my meds in addition to paying my rent. Sigh.

So that brings us to yesterday, when we got taken, in groups, into a meeting room and told that yeah, that extra money we were supposed to get, the additional $2 an hour we weren't paid for a full week of training? We weren't getting it. Turns out that the HR woman didn't bother to check the actual rules and just assured us that we'd get it when we weren't actually entitled to it according to company policy and the paperwork we signed. We'd get paid the holiday pay we were owed, but not the rest of the money we were told we'd get.

$75 we were all hoping for, gone in a heartbeat. There went my thought of getting my meds next week instead, or making up money for one of the days off I had to take this past week because I was sick.

That's what made people threaten to walk out, and reduced one employee to tears. That, on top of everything else, was pretty close to the last straw for a lot of people.

But oh, it gets even better! Originally, we were hired to work from all the campaign's open hours, which was 8 AM to 8 PM. Then we found out that was EST, which is 9-9 in AST. Fine, that's tolerable. It's one hour difference. No big deal.

Oh, but then we were apparently all doing so well at our calls (in spite of shitty training...) that the client decided to give us the calls from all 3 other call centres doing that campaign and take them off the phones for retraining. That panicked a lot of us, because there are only 20 of us on the floor! 20 people taking the calls for 3 centres?!

Turns out that the calls are still pretty slack, which makes me wonder if each centre only had about 5-8 employees...

But that's not the real kicker. This "treat" meant that our hours of operation had to shift. From 9-9, to 9-midnight. We got half a week's warning.

The contract we signed upon hire, and what we were told at the interview, said 8-8. The 9-9 switch was understandable. But adding on those extra 3 hours without asking people if they could work that, asking who was willing to work that, is just the piss-cherry on top of the failcake. We get no choice in our schedules. They come down from head office on Montreal, and they don't actually seem to give a damn about who's available when. We told the company we were all willing and able to work until 8 at night when we got hired. Not beyond that.

Myself, I can't work past 9 unless I want to take a $10 cab ride home or can get a lift from someone passing by my apartment.

We do get differing schedules, though. Oh yes, even within the same class, there's seniority. People with the lower employee number have higher seniority than people with higher numbers. But they didn't decide on the number based on hire date or on test scores. No, they based it on surname! Which means my friend Kat, whose surname starts with an S, get shitty shifts in spite of having passed all the tests in training with flying colours. Because my surname starts with a B, I get the best shifts.

This won't change until a new training class hits the floor in January and more shifts become available.

Oho, but the extra kick in the ass in what they did to the schedules this past week. I was given a schedule or working 9-5. Prime hours, right? Who doesn't want to work 9-5?

Except that we all had Thursday off because we work for an American company and Thursday was American Thanksgiving. And most people who were lower on the seniority ladder than me ended up getting 9.5 hour shifts to make up for the time they'd be missing.

The company evidently thought that 9-5 would be such an awesome shift that people wouldn't mind getting less hours and consequently less pay than the people they arbitrarily decided should come lower on the ladder.

It sucks no matter what. There's no way around that, because scheduling me 9-6 last week would have meant too many agents and too few calls for *gasp* a whole hour. And making somebody lose an hour of their shift isn't any more fair than asking me to.

Thankfully we were allowed to trade our shifts around, so I took a later shift with more hours and gave somebody my earlier shift with less hours, and it worked out fine for both of us.

This coming week, I work 9-6. 42.5 hours after lunch breaks get taken off, which is more than the 37.5 hours we were promised, but I don't mind the extra hours. I do mind, though, the fact that they're not doing any of this fairly or properly or even giving a damn about employee needs. One guy, whose surname happens to fall later in the alphabet than mine, has to leave at 6 to catch the last bus home or else hope that somebody can give him a drive. They made him work until midnight. There was no consideration.

It's been argued that staffing in a call centre is all about when the client needs coverage, catering to the client's needs. I pointed out that such a thing is all well and good, but if they don't start considering employee needs in their equation, they're going to find themselves understaffed very quickly, because none of us are happy about this and just about all of us are looking for new jobs elsewhere. How hard could it have been to ask us, when the hours of operation changed, "Who here is able to work until midnight? Who wants to work later shifts?" But we didn't get that consideration.

Then there was the only thing keeping me hanging on there: the thought of potentially getting a trainer position. One person in our class was hired to train to be a trainer. He got fired after half a day on the phones; I suspect reasons why, but can't say for sure. So I approached HR and told them that I'm interested in a training position. I knew one would be coming available for the new training class starting in December, I knew one hadn't been hired yet, I knew my stuff, and I was more than willing to take the pittance of a salary they offered trainers. (All other call centres in the city pay more to trainers than this place does.) The HR person said they'd take a look at call volumes and see if they could afford to take someone off the phone to become a trainer instead of hiring externally. In other words, if we weren't swamped with calls, I'd at least be considered.

We're not swamped with calls. We're getting 20 calls a day each, often with 10 minute gaps between each call, sometimes longer. And I saw on CareerBeacon their external ad for a training position.

I got passed over. So did Kat, who has more experience training and submitted interest before I did. We got overlooked seemingly without a second thought, in order to hire someone from the outside who would have no experience with the actual work we're doing and would have to train people based on info given to them on paper, which turned out to be incorrect as often as not.

That was their last chance to keep me, I reckoned. I'd been applying for jobs elsewhere, but I knew very well that if I got an offer from somewhere else and then suddenly I was offered a training position, I'd stay here and train. No question about it. $30k salary a year is still better than the $20k a year hourly wage I'm getting now, and I'm not likely to get better pay from many other places, either, for entry-level positions. But no, now if a place calls me an offers only the same wage and same hours as this place, I'm gone. I'm not paid enough to put up with their BS. I suffered through lousy morals and backtalk for almost a year at CD&A, I know what makes a bad company, and I know not to stay in one longer than I have to. I've been there for 5 weeks and already I want out.

Like I said, don't get me wrong. I'm glad for the chance to earn money again, to pay my bills and to buy large grocery orders and to move to an awesome new apartment. And there'll be crap to suffer through no matter which job I have. But crap is relative. From what I hear, the crap I've been putting up with here for 5 weeks is about average for what that place does to its employees. I do not want that. I do not deserve that. None of the employees deserve that. We deserve the pay we're promised, decent training to do our jobs, consideration to the fact that we might not be able to work past what our contract requires us to work.

Thanks, all, for reading this rant as far as you did. It felt good to just get it all off my chest.
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sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Sarasvati

August 2011

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