Call centers face mass resignation over wage growth as Qantas and passport office battle delays

Australia’s cost of living crisis is hitting call center workers hard, with a third threatening to quit in search of higher pay.

An Australian Services Union (ASU) survey of private sector call center workers found that 70% felt financially ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ than they did a year ago, prompting the union to warn that “thousands of people could leave”.

Call center woes are plaguing many top companies, with Qantas making headlines recently over inflated wait times.

The Australian Passport Office, despite being a government organisation, has also come under fire this year due to understaffing, leaving thousands of desperate Australians on hold for hours and without their travel documents.

Of call center workers surveyed, nearly half, 48%, said they lived paycheck to paycheck, but 43% said they even struggled to do so .

Call center staff are threatening to look for other work because their salaries are not keeping pace with Australia’s runaway inflation, leaving it hard to make ends meet

Wage struggles threaten to trigger a mass exodus in the sector, with 30% of employees saying they are ready to leave their jobs in search of a higher salary.

The survey of Australian Services Union (ASU) call center workers also included receptionists and administrative assistants, and was commissioned by the union.

ASU Deputy National Secretary Emeline Gaske said the results represented “a big flashing light for the whole economy.”

“Private sector wages just aren’t keeping up,” she said.

“The call center workforce is growing, but those jobs aren’t paying the bills.”

A union survey found that 70% of call center staff felt worse off financially than a year ago, with almost half living paycheck to paycheck and many hard to do.

A union survey found that 70% of call center staff felt worse off financially than a year ago, with almost half living paycheck to paycheck and many hard to do.

The survey found that 61% of call center workers said it was becoming increasingly difficult to cover basic needs such as groceries.

This led 11% of respondents to skip meals or pawn assets to supplement their income.

Another 30 percent of respondents said they had given up on health care in the past year because of the cost.

In contrast, only 7% said they were living comfortably on their current income.

Australian Services Union deputy national secretary Emeline Gaske has said private sector lagging wages for call center workers could see thousands leave the sector

Australian Services Union deputy national secretary Emeline Gaske has said private sector lagging wages for call center workers could see thousands leave the sector

“The result of this wage crisis is that families are left without essentials like food and health care, with workers selling their belongings to get by,” Ms Gaske said.

“If nothing changes, we will also see businesses suffer as thousands of people leave their employers.”

The average salary for a call center employee in Australia is $59,502 a year, or just over $30 an hour, according to the talent.com website.

The majority of people who responded to the ASU survey earned between $500 and $1,499 per week, before taxes.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, inflation has outpaced wage growth for six consecutive quarters for the first time since the late 1990s.

Qantas has suffered bad publicity over the long delays people are experiencing contacting their call centers with a petition claiming the average wait is five and a half hours.

Qantas has suffered bad publicity over the long delays people are experiencing contacting their call centers with a petition claiming the average wait is five and a half hours.

Qantas has been plagued by call center delays for months, with the national carrier in the spotlight when international borders opened in November last year.

Frustrated Qantas passengers continue to take to social media under the hashtag #qantasfail to complain about long waits or not being able to get through at all.

‘Hey @Qantas instead of running those wellness adverts how about spending that money employing staff to answer phone calls and emails and look after your long-suffering customers? I would love to have a solution to my problems from two months ago. Thanks. #qantasfail,’ Twitter user Sandy Horne wrote on Tuesday.

‘@Qantas still no response from you as to where my luggage is. It’s the third day. #qantasfail #qantas,’ another Monday wrote.

After the Easter holiday caused travel chaos, the Australian Services Union asked Qantas in April to add at least 50 staff to its Hobart call centre.

However, the airline denied that the center in Hobart, which is reserved for premium calls and frequent flyers, was understaffed.

CEO Alan Joyce issued a public apology but denied the center was understaffed.

“I apologize to anyone trying to reach our call center at this time,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said last month.

“But that’s because our call center, with these boundary changes, went from 5,000 calls a day to 15,000 calls a day.

“And every time there’s a change, like the New Zealand opening, it skyrockets.”

Mr Joyce said call centers were the ‘one area’ where the airline did not cut staff during Covid, but still promised centers would have triple the capacity they had during the Covid period by the middle of this year.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has apologized for long call center delays suffered by his airline's customers, but blamed the surge in travel resulting from the lifting of Covid restrictions

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has apologized for long call center delays suffered by his airline’s customers, but blamed the surge in travel resulting from the lifting of Covid restrictions

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