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999 call centre company insists it will be business as usual tomorrow, despite workers' strike

Workers at the BT / Conduit’s Navan call-centre are to go on strike for 12 hours tomorrow.

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Updated 20.52

BRITISH TELECOM/CONDUIT Global say it will be business as usual for the 999 call service across Ireland tomorrow, despite workers going on strike at one of their call centres.

Staff at the 999 call service in Navan, Co Meath, are set to strike tomorrow in pursuit of claims against service operators BT and Conduit.

The strike comes after weeks of unrest between workers and their employers, stemming from accusations surrounding staff’s access to bathroom breaks while on duty.

“All three emergency call handling service centres will be open and operational tomorrow, and in addition, we are activating a fourth centre to give us flexibility,” a spokesperson for BT said this evening.

There are a number of operators from Conduit Global rostered to handle emergency calls in the Navan centre from 8am to 8pm tomorrow and they’re encouraged to come into work as normal.  As part of our contingency plan, we have additional trained employees in place to handle calls to 999 and 112 efficiently and effectively.

“BT is disappointed that the union is going ahead with the industrial action in Conduit Global tomorrow, as we’ve seen the significant changes made in the company and the positive reaction from their employees.”

The HSE, meanwhile, says that it is “working closely with the Department of Communications to ensure that there are contingency plans in place during the period of the planned stoppage to minimise any disruption to services”.

The strike itself will take the form of a 12-hour stoppage between 8am and 8pm at the Navan call centre.

Earlier this month 84% of Conduit workers balloted in favour of industrial action according to the Communications Workers Union (CWU) which is representing the employees.

999′s other call centres in Dublin and Ballyshannon will not be affected by the strike, with all calls funneled through those places in the absence of the Navan centre, according to the CWU Steve Fitzpatrick, head of the CWU, who says the strike is a sign that the 999 workers are asserting “their right to dignity and respect at their workplace”.

“BT/Conduit have responded with a calculated and insincere love bombing of their workers with loads of one-to-one chats and group therapy but absolutely nothing that addresses the claims at the heart of this dispute,” he said.

In keeping Dublin and Ballyshannon open the CWU says it will “ensure that this industrial action does not impact on vital emergency call answering services and services to the public from front line responders”.


In response to the news that the action is to proceed Conduit Global expressed themselves “very disappointed”.

“Facts have been widely reported that rebut the union’s claims and these include that staff’s average pay are already above living wage,” the company said in a statement.

Suspension and leave policy has been changed and the ‘time off the phones policy’ revoked and we have listened to staff to create a new on-call schedule.
The union, whose membership in our company is unknown, does not seem to be up-to-date on the changes within our company and the positive feedback received from employees.

For its part BT disputes the fact that the CWU (which is not recognised by BT/Conduit) are not in a position to say that tomorrow’s action will not impact on the provision of 999 services.

Likewise, a BT source says that their is no way to verify the CWU’s claim that 84% of workers balloted voted in favour of the strike.

The striking workers are demanding a ‘living wage’ of €11.50 per hour, an end to ‘punitive’ suspensions, a ‘fair’ on-call policy (most likely in reference to the alleged denial of toilet breaks on Conduit’s behalf), and collective bargaining powers from their employer.

“Unsurprisingly, the companies that brought us the toilet break policy seem to be incapable of comprehending demands for basic respect, a living wage and the freedom of workers to choose who should represent them,” said Fitzpatrick.

The level of public support for these workers and their issues has given them a huge boost in their pursuit of decency and respect. We are considering our options for further action in the face of BT/Conduit’s intransigence and refusal to engage.

Originally published 15.44

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