For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Crisis of Civil Service Trade Unionism: A Case Study of Call Centre Development in a Civil Service Agency"

by Fisher, Michael (2004)


This article examines why and how management in a British civil service agency have sought to respond to the Modernising Governmentagenda of the present Labour government, by seeking to apply Taylorist principles of work organization to a complex form of administrative casework. This has led to the establishment of a call centre within the agency for the first time. The article discusses the response to this of the main trade union within the agency, the positive and cooperative nature of which is argued to be founded in the historic character of management?union relations within the agency, and in the ?high-quality? form that call centre working has so far assumed.The reasons for this are identified as having their origins primarily in a number of potentially temporary technical limits to the further realization of a Taylorist decomposition of call handling tasks.The persistence of these limits is argued to have compelled management to preserve complex working and employment terms that they may otherwise have sought to challenge and change.The article concludes by arguing that trade unionism in the agency is in crisis: a crisis consisting of a too uncritical understanding of the potential that the further development of call centre working has to enhance the degradation and devaluation of staff labour.


Automation, Machines, Technology, Call Centre, Civil Service, British Context, Trade Union, Trade Unionism, Union, Unionism


Unionism, Call Centres

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