After yesterday’s call to the WorkChoices Hotline left Crikey no more
informed, but a lot more frustrated, a hotline insider has forwarded us
some of the official literature operators are told to work from when
dealing with curious callers.

“Trigger Words” is an efficient little training document designed to help any call centre workers
missing even the most basic IR knowledge navigate
their way through callers’ tricky questions. “Should you hear an
unfamiliar phrase or term, scan the list below to see where info MAY be
located,” reads the document.


As we experienced
yesterday, the operator latches onto a key phrase or word in your question,
searches through the list of “Trigger Words” like “Penalty
Rates” “Unfair Dismissal” and “Unions,” pulls up the relevant section
on their computer program and asks them if you’d like them to read it out to you.

It was one of the most frustrating, though not completely unexpected,
parts of our call, having to deal with someone who can’t deal in nuance
or detail because their headings and sub-headings simply don’t allow
for it.
The insider also told Crikey that the government was preparing to
prematurely shut-down a number of the WorkChoices call centres three
weeks earlier than
scheduled this weekend, because 3 calls an hour to a 100
operator call centre is not that economical. But if the government was
really concerned about the hip pocket they’d never have launched a PR
campaign without any of the legislation set in stone.

Government
heavy-hitter Ian Hanke, who’s been given the task of spinning
the new workplace changes, denied that the government were closing
down any of the call centres on the weekend, saying that there was no
fixed date for when the hotline would wind up.

Asked about how popular
the call centres had been with the public, Hanke assured Crikey that
they were getting calls through. “It waxes and wanes,” he said.

The feedback that Crikey has received from past and present government call centre
operators indicates that the work is about the easiest $15-20 an hour
you’ll ever make. Operators take only a few calls every couple
of hours and spend the rest of their time boning up on literature
that’s slightly more interesting than the government’s glossy
WorkChoices booklet.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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