Wednesday saw the nationwide shutdown of the emergency service call center. We took a look into what happened and the consequences.
On Wednesday, July 19 South Africa's biggest emergency call center, 10111 went on strike.Over 5000 call center employees nationwide downed phones due to unfair wage disputes.South African Police Union (Sapu) ensured that the strike was protected.The workers have been warned that the no-work/ no-pay policy has been implemented.Even though the strikes might be disruptive with in the department, SAPS has reassured the public that the call center will remain operational.SAPS spokesperson, Sally De Beer has confirmed that uniformed policemen will be deployed to the call centers to ensure that all emergencies are being dealt with.
According to the Sapu, 10111 employees are one of the lowest earning call center companies in the country.Sapu says its members are requesting to have their salary met with the other governmental call centers.The employees are requesting to move from level 5 on the DSPA Salary Scale, to a level 7. This means that their salary should increase by R50 000 per annum.
Here is a break down of the monthly salary scale so you can get a better idea of the demands of these workers :
Level 1: R6856 to R7254
Level 2: R7385 to R7814
Level 3: R8830 to R9342
Level 4: R10 464 to R11 071
Level 5: R12511 to R13 237
Level 6: R15 023 to R15 895
Level 7: R18547 to R19 623
Level 8: R23 033 to R24 369
Level 9: R27 381 to R28 969
Level 10: R34 174 to R36 187
Level 11: R44 357 to R46 929
Level 12: R52 569 to R55 618
Daily Struggles Facing An Emergency Operator
The task facing these call center agents does differ greatly to other customer service provided.Every day, these employees are in constant communication with frantic and traumatized individuals who need emergency assistance.These operators need to insure that they remain calm at all times and that they receive the vital information that they need from the callers. This is in order to dispatch the correct vehicles to the correct location.They also usually work a 10 hour shift. During this time, they deal with not only trauma, but the responsibility of ensuring that help is provided to those in need.
Is The Solution Increasing Pay?
It is a big responsibility to undertake on a daily basis.We question why the people who hold all of this responsibility are receiving minimal salaries, and whether they are receiving the correct training.In the case of the Van Breda murder, murder accused Henri Van Breda called the emergency services to alert the authorities to his family's murder.The 10 minute exchange between the obviously incompetent operator and van Breda was played during the trial.This, highlighting the importance of experienced emergency call center operators who are able to deal well under pressure.Will a higher salary solve the problem? Or is the solution simply investing in training and qualified professionals?