"Together for Life" presented the findings of the report conducted with 1000 employees of the Call Center sector in 4 cities of Albania: Tirana, Vlora, Shkodra and Durres.
Employees of this sector, representatives of institutions and civil society, highlighted, among other things, the lack of adequate working conditions, in a roundtable discussion held on Tuesday.
One of the primary problems presented in the study is the lack of organization of employees to carry out trade union movements in order to protect their rights.
" 247 call center companies conducted their activity during the last year. About 42.6% of employees have university degrees .From the surveys conducted with 1000 employees, we have concluded that 46.7% of them work part-time, of which 63% of employees are female. One problem we have noticed is that employees are not members of unions, and do not have the necessary information on how to organize in such. We are very interested in having a trade union movement in this sector. We will continue to inform the employees of this sector, because the more informed they are, the more likely it is that trade union movements will take place. "Another problem is that 22.3% of employees in this sector are not paid overtime in the second shift," said Alma Kordoni, program manager at Together For Life.
"Salaries in the Call Center are pretty good, they are above the average salary in Albania. Regarding occupational safety and health, 31.8% of respondents confirmed that they have health problems caused by the work process. Their educational level also affects the level of information on addressing complaints, where about 20% of the total number of complaints in the State Labour Inspectorate are complaints from this sector ", she added.
The representative of the State Ministry for Entrepreneurship Protection, Alketa Knuti, offered her support for the findings and proposals of this report to be forwarded to the government.
"As for the declaration of the real salary in the Call Center sector, it is often not declared because of the deals that the employee makes with the employer, but this should not happen anymore, because the employee in this case may lose many of the rights ", she added.
On the other hand, the representative of the Center for Labour Relations and Social Dialogue, Arian Hoxha said that the findings of this study should serve as a signal to increase the quality of working conditions.
"Any kind of finding that came out of this study should not be taken as criticism of employers, but as a signal that we should work harder to raise standards of working conditions," he said.
In addition to these identified findings, the representative of the Labour and Social Services Inspectorate, Irida Qosja, who was engaged during the monitoring process according to the SSI file in 4 cities (Tirana, Vlora, Shkodra and Durres) assessed that health safety councils in jobs are not always functional.
"Labour relations in the Call Center sector are very delicate. Employees need to be informed about working conditions. We have seen the situation and it turns out that thankfully the number of informal employees is very small. However, the bonuses given in this sector compromise the amount of payment, which in many cases creates opportunities to avoid declaring the real salary.. Also, we notice that occupational safety and health councils are not functional, this is due to the lack of union movements within companies ", added Qosja.
Part of this meeting was also a former employee of the Call Center sector, who emphasized the essential elements such as coverage with medical assistance in the workplace. Ilma Lamçe told the participants that from her experience in the Call center, medical assistance is non-existent in the workplace.
"I have worked in the Call Center sector in Vlora and Tirana and the problems are many. First, in the workplace where I worked there was no doctor, medical help was lacking. In any case where the employees had health problems, where there were many, the ambulance was called immediately, because the ambulance in the workplace did not exist. Another problem is the official holidays. There are no days off in the Albanian national holidays, in many cases the holidays were the same as in Italian law. Even the summer holidays, there were cases where employees took them in October.. "A few employees can speak openly about these issues, especially in front of the cameras, because they are afraid of being fired."
In support of these discussions, the director of "Together For life", Eglantina Bardhi added another aspect of monitoring, according to which, 90% of employees support their families with a salary in the Call Center and it is not the students who are the most most are employed in this sector.
"The image has been created that only students work in the Call Center. From the study, it has resulted that a large part of employers support their families with the salary they benefit from this sector. "What we see with interest is that in a second phase we encourage even more trade union movements", declared Bardhi.
In addition to the many problems in the workplace that emerged during this meeting, the bankruptcy and departure of Call Center entities from Albania due to changes in legislation in Italy remains an increased risk, where we are losing many jobs.
According to Arjodita Rraboshta, employer in this sector, 32% of entities in Albania were closed during 2017, leaving a large part of employees unemployed.
The project and the employee survey were implemented by "Together For Life" in partnership with "Olof Palme International Center" and financial support of Sida and the Swedish government.
The Call Center sector in Albania is considered as one of the most problematic in terms of working conditions and implementation of contracts, therefore the purpose of this project implemented in 4 cities is to establish stable relations between employees and employers, as well as the commitment of the authorities responsible for improve the situation in this sector.