A NORTH-East MP will hold talks with one of the region’s biggest employers today (Wednesday, January 29) after concerns were raised about working conditions at a call centre.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman will meet with representatives of EE in London following claims by staff that bosses at the company’s Darlington site are acting in an unreasonable and heavy-handed manner.

Staff allege that conditions and morale have deteriorated in the last year following a change in management.

The Communication Workers Unions (CWU) said it had seen a sharp rise in complaints about the company, which employs about 2,000 people in the town.

The union said it was currently helping five workers take legal action for unfair dismissal or discrimination.

The Northern Echo has spoken to about ten current and former EE staff whose allegations against the company include:

- A reluctance to allow flexible working hours for parents

- Staff being unfairly disciplined and sacked

- A failure to take action after staff have been racially or sexually abused by customers

- Setting targets which are unrealistic, unclear and changed when staff are set to him them

One member of staff who has worked at the site for more than a decade told how five members of her team of 20 had submitted grievances about the company’s refusal to allow flexible hours for child care.

The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The atmosphere is now terrible and morale is at rock bottom.

“They treat staff so poorly. There’s been times when colleagues have gone to the toilet and a manager has called them on the mobile asking where they are.

“Callers have threatened to rape and murder me before, but you’re expected just to get on with it.”

Another worker who has health problems told how they had faced repeated disciplinary action.

“They have not made any reasonable adjustments for me and I feel like they’re trying to manage me out.”

Mrs Chapman said: “I’m concerned about what people have told me so I obviously need to take this matter up on their behalf.” 

CWU said it was aware of issue at the call centre and would be contacting EE management in an effort to overcome them.

An EE spokesperson said: “We’re one of the largest employers in Darlington and take our responsibilities for our employees seriously.

“We regularly measure satisfaction and ask for feedback on working at EE – both aspects are positive in Darlington and consistently improving.

“If any member of staff raises issues or concerns, as a responsible employer we will always investigate them directly with the individual concerned.”