It roundly condemns Britain's fastest-growing business sector: 'The tyranny of the assembly line is but a Sunday picnic compared to the control that management can exercise in computer telephony', says author Sue Fearney. According to the study, calls at most centres are 'force fed' - as soon as one call finishes the next is connected automatically, allowing operators no opportunity to pace their work rate. Staff burn-out rates are high - according to the report, 18 months is the average maximum tolerance of the job. The study quotes the late French philosopher Michel Foucault: 'In call centres the agents are constantly visible and the supervisor's power has indeed been rendered perfect - via the computer monitoring screen.' [Debrief wonders if the report is playing a cerebral prank here? Foucault, who died in 1984, is unlikely ever to have seen a modern call centre - except from the astral plane!]
Despite the foregoing, all is not gloom and doom for the huddled masses: 'Employees appreciate the higher rates of pay they receive in call centres, and seem to become quickly acclimatised to the high levels of monitoring', the report concludes.