I’m reading this interesting piece put out in the latest Gurgaon Workers Newsletter (which, by the way, puts out some really good writing and analysis with a focus on workers’ self-activity and from-below struggle). I’ve copied below a section they wrote on developing trends among call centers globally. It’s worth reading for what it raises about the changing contours of the economic crisis and aspects of the recomposition happening among the global working class.
According to Plan – General information on the development of the region or on certain company policies
*** Shifts in the Call Centre Industry: Gurgaon Tata Workers’ Report and Global Re-Locations ***
Call centres can be seen as ‘the industry of globalisation’. The came up in the 1990s as a product of Taylorisation of office work: information technology enabled to undermine the ‘individual skills’ of accountants, bank and other office workers. Contrary to what a lot of lefty ideologist thought the technological restructuring lead to a massification and concentration of work-force. By the end of the 1990s call centres went global, jumped the English speaking global wage scales from the global north to south. The patriotic populism of most of the trade unions proved helpless facing global relocations. India became the global back-office and call centre. Call centres combined ‘excess capital’ (finance, dubious personal services etc.) with an excess educated working class (students, graduates etc.). Unemployed post-graduates in Tunisia phoned for French Telecom, their Indian work-mates did the same for British Telecom. With the crisis one of the main pillars of call centre industry – the finance sector and personal services – came under pressure, so did wages in the global north. Currently we can witness rapid changes and shifts within global call centre work. In the following we give a sketchy overview on recent trends. Gurgaon is probably still the biggest call centre hub world-wide, so we are glad to document a short letter by a worker at Tata Consultancy Services based in Gurgaon.