"We want our wages"
Interview with sacked Telegen workers
300 workers at Telegen, a call-centre in Brighton, were made redundant with no notice on Friday 21 May. Two sacked Telegen workers spoke to Brighton Socialist Party about their experience and their plans to fight for their unpaid wages.
"On Friday morning I checked my bank account and I hadn't been paid. I called a friend and they hadn't been paid either. We went into work and 200 to 300 members of staff were outside, not being allowed into the building. Creditors distributed leaflets explaining that Telegen had ceased trading. Some people were crying. Others looked stunned. In the creditors' meeting we were told officially that we had been made redundant. Friday was the first day for some people, just recruited in the weeks before!
"We are owed two weeks' pay, as well as holiday, overtime and pay instead of the week's notice of redundancy. We are paid £220 a week basic rate, as well as commission and bonuses. I worked 20 hours overtime in the last week for which I have not been paid.
"We live week by week, with food, bills and rent to pay. One friend lost his house because he cannot afford to repay the mortgage. Some people literally used their last £2 to get the bus into work expecting to be paid!
"We are all relying on crisis loans from the jobcentre as it takes a month to get housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance. Many of us have moved in with our parents and don't qualify for the full benefits. Around 25% of us have new jobs to go to.
"On Thursday we were told to attend work in smart dress to impress a client that was being shown around the office. It turns out these 'clients' were the creditors being shown Telegen's assets! We are angry that we were lied to. Our payslips were not given to us on the Thursday due to a 'problem with the printers', another lie.
"Why was Telegen recruiting when they knew they would close? Why didn't they tell us this might happen so that we could at least plan ahead? Why didn't they put aside some funds for our pay at least, if not a bridging fund?
"We now face a horrendous battle filling in forms and waiting for the outcome of the creditors' meeting to find out whether we are getting our pay or not! That money is ours, we worked for it!
"We want our wages and we want them soon! We want compensation for the worry and difficulties we have been through, especially the people who have lost their homes. We want the books to be opened and we want to see where all the money went. And we want to know why they lied to us, and why the directors couldn't face us themselves.
"In my next job I will definitely join the trade union and make sure it is organised in my workplace. We will be helping Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) and the PCS union to organise other call centres to make sure they are not treated like we were.
"We will be organising a picket with YFJ outside the creditors' meeting on Thursday 10 June to make our demands clear."
"My Dad is from Greece. I pray Britain doesn't go down that road, but when people are pushed so far they can't help but fight back. This crisis is not the fault of the ordinary people.
"I marched during the youth movement in late 2008. Young people are brainwashed at school to think they will get jobs and a good future if they work hard. When they grow up they realise that isn't true."
Thursday 3 June 7pm
Speakers include: Tracy Edwards, PCS Young Members coordinator
In The Socialist 2 June 2010:
British Airways cabin crew strike
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party LGBT
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis