21 Jun, 2023 @ 13:30
1 min read

After call centre worker dies at her desk in Spain, unions denounce claims colleagues were forced to keep working

TCall centres in Spain could be fined if callers are forced to hang on for more than three minutes
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SPANISH labour unions CGT and UGT have denounced the actions of a call centre in Madrid after a member of staff died at her desk and other workers were allegedly forced to continue taking calls with the woman’s body still present.

The incident happened on June 13 at around 2pm at a company called Grupo Konecta BTO, located in the San Blas-Canillejas district. 

The government’s Labour Inspection department has opened an investigation into what happened and will be collecting information about the woman’s working conditions, Labour Ministry sources told online daily El Confidencial.

According to a statement released on social media by the CGT union, the woman’s name was Inmaculada. The call centre was working for the power company Iberdrola at the time of her death, which happened ‘unexpectedly at her work station’.

CGT added that WhatsApp messages between members of staff at the time relayed how they had been told to keep taking calls, rather than stopping, because someone repeatedly stated ‘we are an essential service’. 

An ambulance was called to the site but the woman could not be saved. 

The union expressed its ‘condemnation of the heads of the campaign and Konecta for its behaviour’, adding that the firm had lacked ‘humanity, empathy and respect’. 

Unions have also called on the company to put a protocol in place should a similar tragedy occur again, pointing to the ‘psychological damage’ caused by ‘the poor actions of people who could have avoided this’. 

Grupo Konecta BTO, however, cited a different sequence of events, telling El Confidencial that it was a ‘delicate and tragic issue’, and that they were ‘being very careful to protect the privacy of the employee and her family’.

“The most important thing for us is our workers and the person who died had been working for us for 15 years, she was a much-loved and essential person,” the company added. 

Employees ‘could choose to continue with their work from their homes or from another area of the company’, the firm claimed.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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