The Communication Workers’ Union writes:
Bosses in Conduit/BT have introduced a new ‘Toilet Break Policy’ which seeks to police and micro-manage how and when 999 operators go to the bathroom. The announcement comes just hours after staff indicated their intention to ballot for industrial action in pursuit of fairness, decency and respect in the workplace.
… The policy states that staff must report to management before and after going for a toilet break and that only one operator is allowed to use the bathroom at one time across the country. The move has been described by staff as ‘grotesque, disgusting and insulting to a group of adults who work hard to help save lives by answering 999 calls.’
Workers are only allowed a maximum of 7 minutes during any single toilet break. If an emergency call operator requires more time, they have to ask for specific permission from their line manager.
The announcement is seen by staff as an act of retribution by a management regime that refuses to respect its employees. The emergency call workers have been threatened with severe disciplinary action if they exceed their toilet break allowance of 19 minutes for a 12-hour shift.
The 19 minutes also includes any time staff might take to recover themselves after a traumatic phone call which can regularly feature in the working day for a 999 operator.
Thanks Ruairi Creaney
A Conduit Global spokesperson said:
“Conduit Global notes that in periods of industrial action, allegations can be made in which the facts are not always evident, or are done to target emotions. We are committed to a positive work environment and an open dialogue with our employees to meet their needs and those of the customers and citizens we serve. We continuously review policies and practices to uphold that and will continue to do so going forward. As part of normal business practices, we welcome feedback directly from our staff.”
“A policy on telephone usage was introduced to ensure that all three Emergency Call Answering Centres across the country were serving the Irish public 24/7 and not placing public safety at risk. Our staff were informed of this policy on Thursday 21st January, the day before Conduit Global received any communication from the Communication Workers Union in regard to industrial action.”
“Our policy covers a range of “not-ready-states” that agents can use while not waiting for 999 calls and includes DSE, Training and Call Wrap. In addition, staff have in excess of 1 hour breaks across each working day which are not included as part of the “not-ready-state” policy. While we monitor the number of staff available to handle emergency calls at all times, our staff have not been instructed to, nor is there any intention that they must, report to management before and after taking a toilet break.”
“Our policy for operators recovering and composing themselves after handling a traumatic call again is not included in any “not-ready-state” allowance or breaks. We have a clear separate policy in place to assist our operators in dealing with these situations, focusing on the welfare of the staff which includes counselling services.”
“The intention of the policy, as previously stated is to protect public safety ensuring staff are always available to take ECAS calls as well as protect the health of our staff to help them as they deliver this vital service.”