Telstra removes overseas call centre workers from onsite accommodation

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Telstra removes overseas call centre workers from onsite accommodation

Telstra has asked one of its contractors operating call centres in the Philippines to pull out staff living in onsite accommodation arrangements.

The decision came after a report from The Financial Times showed footage of another Philippines-based outsourcing company working for online retailer Amazon showed that Filipino workers were sleeping closely together on mattresses on the office floor.

A Telstra spokesperson told CRN the workers had left the onsite accommodation in early April.

The ABC reported that a union for call centre workers in the Philippines claimed that skeleton crews doing work for Telstra were allegedly sleeping close together in a training room within Telstra contractor Teleperformance’s offices, despite the risk of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post, Telstra group executive for consumer & small business Michael Ackland said the company told Teleperformance to find suitable longer-stay arrangements for the staff that are still working, with some either now staying at home and commuting to work via shuttle bus or private transport, or being housed in hotel accommodation near offices.

“Following the implementation of Government containment measures in the Philippines last month, which included significant travel restrictions, Teleperformance arranged short term accommodation options for some of its workers onsite for people who were willing and able to continue working in those arrangements,” Ackland said.

“As a result of this, in Teleperformance’s Mall of Asia office in Manila for example, the Telstra floor which normally has capacity for around 200 people to work, had around 30 people accommodated and working on site. Telstra is just one of many Teleperformance clients operating from the Mall of Asia office.”

Ackland added that the telco had been in contact with the contractor daily to ensure it has been meeting all health and safety requirements for its workers, as consistent with Telstra’s own Supplier Code of Conduct.

“Three weeks ago, we instructed Teleperformance that whilst we considered onsite accommodation suitable for the short-term, with the extension of the government’s quarantine arrangements, we instructed them to find suitable longer-stay arrangements.

“Under COVID-19, we operate our sites at an average of around 20% capacity so we remain well within the government guidelines for social distancing.

“As the situation continues to evolve, we remain vigilant in ensuring that all necessary health and safety measures are in place for people who work on Telstra accounts.”

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