Georgetown; – Fed up of what they called “slave driver salaries”, “monetary hand outs” and mentally draining working conditions, several staffs attached to two local call centres are asking the Guyana Government through their respective labour representative to investigate the salary scale that is being paid to them by the two named call centre operators.
Speaking to the Guyana Guardian on condition that their anonymity will be preserved; four active staffs from two separate call centres claimed that they earned just under $40,000 Guyana dollars per month (or around US$180) which is far below the minimum wage, and which works out to nothing more than “passage money”.
While most of the call centre workers are recent school leavers, a reasonable percentage of them are single mothers with two and three children who are often forced to stay away from school because of the salary short comings.
Many stressed that the current unemployment situation in the country meant that they have limited job options, which a tool many of the call centre operators are said to be using against them and the state in a bid to continue to pay them ‘slave driver salaries”.
They are adamant that the Government of Guyana can do better by pushing call centre operators to at least pay the minimum wage of $50,000 (US$250) per month.
In recent times several call centres have sprung up around Guyana while at least three have been operating from here for more than half a decade.
However, except for one, all of the others are said to be paying on a range that is way below the country’s minimum wage.
Checks by the Guyana Guardian have revealed that Guyanese are technically the lowest paid call centre workers within the Caribbean Community, and are amongst the lowest paid in the world.
International campaigners have often accused call centre operators of breaking the back of the poor to double earn on their profits, while ignoring call centre workers rights. And they are of the view that the situation is exactly the same here in Guyana or even worse.
A United States Government study through the US National Library of Sciences have revealed that almost 40% of all call centre workers often ended up suffering from serious psychological distress and other mental and vocal health disorders that can seriously impact their social life and other normal behavior in the long term.
The study had called for call centre workers to enjoy better working conditions, gain reduced working hours, and to undergo regular psychological evaluation among other things.
A similar study in the UK had also criticized many of the rules that call centres placed upon their employees, and have also called for these sorts of business entities to be regularly monitored, and for governments to establish direct complaint lines so that affected workers can get help.
In Guyana call centre workers are unrepresented, and are often at a disadvantaged since the state and local labour authorities seem to be maintaining a hands off approach when it comes to the operations and working conditions at local call centres.