General — 31 December 2016 — by Micah Goodin
Ready Call workers up in arms

BURRELL BOOM, Belize District, Thurs. Dec. 29, 2016–Employees at the Ready Call Center (RCC), who number roughly 300, are reportedly up in arms after they received a memo on Tuesday demanding that they work on every public and bank holiday on which they are scheduled to work, for the upcoming year, starting January 1, 2017.

Our newspaper was drawn to this developing story by concerns posted on Facebook by an employee at the RCC who shared the memo and disclosed, “I was threatened today [that] if I don’t sign a new work policy, I will not be able to enter my work space.”

The memo from the management at RCC read: “Effective January 1st, 2017 you will be held accountable to report to work on Public and Bank Holidays, if you are scheduled to work. Ready Call Center has an obligation to deliver to the client without exception, even on holidays.”

It continued, “The success of this call center lies in ensuring that you are fully aware of the desired results and of what is expected. Our main objective is to ensure that you are present for work every day for all days scheduled.”

The memo blatantly warned, with special emphasis, that: “Failure to adhere to your schedule may result in your dismissal.”

According to the memo, RCC will be providing transportation to fill the gaps in the public transportation system, since commuter buses do not operate regular runs on holidays.

Information to Amandala is that employees have been given until the end of this work week to submit their signed memos.

The memo’s last line asks workers to sign to indicate their “understanding” of the document, suggesting that their approval or concurrence is not being sought.

Today, Thursday, our newspaper brought the issue to the attention of Ms. Aida Reyes at the Labour Department, who told us that the employees at RCC do not have to sign the memo that was sent to them by management.

However, she did say that employees can work on holidays if, of course, a prior agreement was made with their employers.

According to Reyes, if anyone is terminated from RCC for failure to sign the memo, then efforts can be made to have them reinstated by Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams.

While the Labour Department monitors developments at RCC, there is growing despair among employees who may now have to report to work on holidays.

One female employee at RCC today told us: “The worst part of it is that they are forcing you to work on holidays once scheduled, no matter if you live in the city, on a highway, or in a remote village where buses do not run. On those days, they state they will send a bus for you even if you live in Cayo or Orange Walk, so you have no excuse to not attend work on a holiday.”

According to her, she is even more concerned that the rate of payments for these holidays was not specified in the memo. The employee feels defenseless, since there is no union with which they are affiliated through which they can voice their concerns to management.

“And we need one—not just us but all call centers. The thing is, some call centers are closed on holidays but we are open 365 days of the year,” she explained.

According to her, she and her fellow employees are stuck between a rock and a very hard place.

She says that she fears that if they don’t sign the memo, “they will find grounds to dismiss us.”

On the other hand, if they do sign, she explained, “the paper that you will sign binds you to work on those days; if you miss – immediate dismissal. No questions asked.”

At the time of this report, there was no public statement issued by RCC’s management.

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