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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Compensation for call centre worker
Call centre
Unions are not recognised at the call centre
A call centre worker who said she was targeted because of union membership has won compensation at an employment tribunal.

Angela Scott alleged she was tackled by managers at internet call centre Iomart because she tried to get union recognition.

The 38-year-old, from Stornoway, was sacked last October after being off sick with depression for four months.


He shouted at me and made it clear they were anti-union

Angela Scott
The tribunal unanimously decided that she had been unfairly dismissed, and ordered Iomart to pay her 1,422 in compensation.

A spokesman for the MSF union described the telecommunications and internet services company as "Dickensian".

Iomart's Stornoway centre provides support for Virgin.net and its own brands of Masdasafish and Jings.

The tribunal heard that mother-of-two Mrs Scott was a highly-rated acting team leader at Iomart's net centre in Stornoway.

She said that prior to her illness she was asked if she was in the MSF union by the net centre manager Jan Schouten, who also asked her to name other members.

Resolve problems

"He shouted at me and made it clear they were anti-union. He was angry and upset as he talked to me," she told the hearing.

Dutch-born Mr Schouten said the company exercised its right not to recognise unions and said it believed it was better for the staff and the company to resolve problems internally.

He said he had raised the subject of unions with Mrs Scott and quizzed her on who was in the union.

The tribunal accepted that he was merely enquiring as to what was going on.

Stornoway harbour
The call centre is based in Stornoway
It also said that alleged comments by another acting manager, Kevin Melia, about how Mrs Scott would be sacked because of union involvement were not necessarily the views of Iomart.

The tribunal did not accept that asking permission to go to the toilet, though not a written rule, was oppressive where incoming telephone traffic had to be handled.

Solicitor Angus Macdonald, for Mrs Scott, said: "If the definition of a sweatshop is a place where trades unions are discouraged, where permission is needed to go to the toilet and where staff are told to cross their legs, then Iomart plc in Stornoway is a sweatshop."

But Malcolm Cameron, for Iomart, argued that Mrs Scott had been "looking for a scapegoat for her problems".

The level of the compensation award was cut by 50% because the tribunal said Mrs Scott had contributed in part to the outcome by not responding to Iomart's various enquiries.

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Business
End in sight for call centres?
14 Nov 00 | Scotland
Call centres ring the changes
31 Aug 00 | Scotland
Scots face high-tech future
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