Workers seen as battery hens: union

battery hens

Workers who have to "hot desk" in crowded offices are being treated like "human battery hens", a union has complained.

Unison said that as councils and utility companies made cuts, many call centres allocated desks on a first-come, first-served basis.
Staff in call centres were under even greater pressure because they were constantly monitored when they left their desks, even to go to the toilet, said Unison, which will discuss hot desking at its energy conference in Liverpool.

One call centre worker described conditions in her place of work saying: "Imagine what it's like having to pack all your belongings - papers, pens, even your coffee mug - into a crate every night and then dragging it around until I find an empty desk in the morning - it makes me feel like a battery hen.
"In the winter I always avoid desks where I know the previous occupant had a cold, but even so I have noticed more people taking time off as any flu or sore throats go round the office like wildfire."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "A dash for seats every morning is the worst possible way to start the day.

"Unison is calling on employers to think twice about introducing hot-desking, especially in areas like call centres. The target-driven culture, coupled with the constant demands of customers, can be dehumanising enough, without the loss of your personal space.

"We all need to bring a bit of individuality and our own personality to any job and packing up your working day into a locker or crate can be very depressing and morale-sapping."

© 2013 Press Association
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