AROUND 6,000 workers in Reality call centres, part of the Great Universal Stores (GUS) empire, will be balloted from next Wednesday for strike action over a threat to their jobs. The workers fear their jobs will go as Reality, a home shopping company, is transferring work to call centres in India.
'We are talking about going to war with this company, and we want you to stand up and be counted,' said Anne Hickson, an Usdaw union official, at a 150-strong union meeting for workers on the Burnley site last week. There is a mixed Asian and white workforce on the Burnley site who are united in anger against the real enemy - the bosses at Reality and GUS.
GUS chief executive John Peace got a pay package worth £1.5 million this year. One of the non-executive directors is Tory peer Lord Harris of Peckham, who is worth £180 million. They want to boost their wealth by using workers in India whose annual pay is on average £1,300 for a call centre worker.
Reality employs workers at centres across the north west of England, including Burnley, Preston, Bolton, Widnes, Leeds, Eccles, Wigan, Oldham, Manchester and Newtown in mid Wales. If the workers, members of Usdaw, vote for action they are set to hold two-hour strikes every day for seven weeks. The ballot closes on 11 September.