Labor

India's Call Center Workers Rack Up Complaints

Friday, June 10, 2011

Female workers are widespread in the low-paying jobs in India's $40 billion business process outsourcing industry. Workplace hazards, ranging from stress-induced ailments to social lives shattered by the quest for shut-eye, are also common.

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Search for Shut-Eye

A major problem with the work, adds Gupta, is the disruption to social and family life. Sleep, nature's sweet restorer, becomes the be-all and end-all.

"On weekends when the family wanted to do something together--go for a ride or catch up on a movie--I found myself invariably opting out so that I could get some shut-eye," Gupta says.

Maya, 27, works in a call center in New Delhi and is still enthusiastic about her "unusual" job that entails keeping "U.S. time" and speaking with an American accent.

She dreams of making it big but is discovering, to her growing dismay, that she is spending a great deal of her free time visiting doctors, whether it is for gastric problems, eye disorders, insomnia or just plain backaches.

Most of the women interviewed also talked about their fear of getting attacked in the dark.

Elizabeth depends on her brother to pick her up from a designated spot miles away from home. If her brother gets delayed by even a few minutes, she shivers with fear as she waits alone on a desolate road in the wee hours of the morning.

News coverage of crimes perpetrated on female business process outsourcing employees fuel such fears, the women say.

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Manisha Jain is a senior New Delhi-based journalist who specializes in social sector and gender stories. She has also written two books: "Natural Remedies" and "Plants For Good Health."

This article is adapted from one that was released by the Women's Feature Service. For more articles on women's issues log on to: http://www.wfsnews.org

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