About anticallcenter and OTE (a brief post in English)
AntiCallCenter is a blog created by part-time, precarious workers in the call-centers of OTE in Thessaloniki (2nd largest town in Greece) aiming to contribute to the circulation of workers’ experience and struggles that occur in that sector. Contact us at:
About the company:
OTE (National Organization of Communications) is the largest communication service (phone lines, internet, satellite communications through Consortium Ltd which controls the Hellas-Sat satellite, informatics etc.) company in Greece. Though established in 1949 by the state, the state’s share hold has now dropt to a 38.7 %, due to privatization politics in process since 1996. It has entered the stock market of New York and London and created several daughter-companies in Greece but also gathered share from major communication companies around the Balkans. Its daughter companies are COSMOTE, OTENET, CosmoOne, InfOTE, OTEGlobe, OTESAT-MARITEL, Hellas-Sat, ΟΤΕ Estate, OTE Academy. It holds 20% of the total share-capital of Telecom Serbia, 90% of the Armenian ArmenTel, 54% of the Romanian RomTelecom and CosmoRom, 85% of the Albanian AMC. It has also “bought” through Cosmote the Bulgarian GloBul and Macedonian Cosmofon.
Its daughter-company OTE Academy provides working skills related to university diplomas, an issue related to the major education-crisis and opposed to by the university student strikes and occupations of 2006-2007. (see about the strikes further down)
Its first digital call-center appeared in 1989 in the city of Patra. Since then there are call-centers in all major cities of Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra) employing several full time workers but many more “elite” university students with a part-time contract (which are about 15% of all OTE employees).
About the struggles:
OTE works with part-time contracts since 1980. The major employees’ categories are workers-leasing (agreements on a certain work-project with an outside contractor) and part time workers like call-center employees, cleaners, technicians.
Since OTE used to be a state-company, and state companies in Greece used to work with full-time, permanent-contract employees in a general welfare state “class struggle-treaty”, this new condition (which also included many other state-sectors and companies, as part of the on going neo-liberal restructuring of the capital) was critical to workers as well as the state syndicalists and the unionists of the Left. So there were some moves 3 years ago but amongst other things being too much mediated by the syndicates (state syndicates and leftist-ones which love to handle such issues through media and lawyers ) they gave no serious result, and the issue became a pre-elections confrontation-issue between the parties.
The struggle in the call-center sector of Thessalonica which employs about 450 high-grade university students (medicine, electronics etc.) with part-time contracts and their permanent-contract supervisors, begun in summer of 2005 by some part-time workers, who tried to share working experience in a call-center-workers gathering. Issues like work-conditions, insurance, flexibility, rights which were withheld by the employers, came up and some of these workers tried to syndicate (even by an attempt to make a small union) on a primary base. The gatherings were periodical for a 5-month era, gained a few things concerning the right of student’s vacation during the exams-period (which was previously wrapped up by the bosses), and a 2-day vacation time per month (wrapped-up too), then stopped (since many of the workers who dealt with the whole thing completed their 8-month contract, and others were forced to resign) and started again with new employees (who came in touch with the previous ones) this autumn. There were new gatherings and the bosses stroke back with section-change of 3 members of this initiative and 2 forced resignations. The handling of the matter by the executives was too law-accordant and the employees which were eventually forced to resign due to non-suitable time schedule (both employees where medicine students and a morning schedule, was opposed to their studies at university) couldn’t do sth against it. This “attack” though, coincided the major students’ movement with its university occupations, and a lead of 60-70 students made a solidarity attempt in February 2007. They entered by force the OTE building in which the call centers are located and handed out brochures to the workers, wrote “I have never been imprisoned, but I was put to work in the OTE sweatshop” on a front-entrance wall, brawled with the work-supervisors and made an open call to the employees for support in the students’ struggle . A similar move occurred a few days later in the call-center in Athens. (for more info about the students struggle see the intro of the English translation of the leaflet “occupation not democracy” at : http://www.blaumachen.gr/blaumachen/en_show.php?id=55 )
Gatherings keep on going periodically, and some of the employees along with former workers of this call-center run the anticallcenter project too.