Almost half of Australia’s 220,000 call centre workers experience sub-standard wages and conditions, according to survey results released today.

The survey of 1,000 workers in 88 call centres nationally found only half said they always received the minimum wage specified in the industry standards code adopted by many call centres as well as by State Governments in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Code’s minimum base rate is $13.90 per hour for a customer service officer.

The survey also found that 84% of respondents did not receive regular ear tests, 56% were never consulted about how call monitoring is used by management and one third of employees reported insufficient breaks to follow up customer requests.

Releasing the survey results at a call centre conference in Brisbane today, ACTU President Sharan Burrow called on the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to follow Queensland’s lead in adopting the Minimum Standards Code.

“About 70% of all call centre workers are employed in NSW and Victoria, but these States are dragging the chain in adopting the Minimum Standards Code already used by many private employers,” Ms Burrow said.

“Call centres represent one of Australia’s fastest growing yet least regulated industries, with a mainly young and female workforce who deserve decent minimum wages and conditions.

“Companies looking to invest in Australian call centres list a skilled workforce as one the key factors. In order to maintain a competitive edge in attracting new employment opportunities, government and industry must invest in quality long term, highly skilled jobs for call centre employees. The Minimum Standards Code helps meet that need,” Ms Burrow said.

A summary of the survey is available.