The "well-being" of your employees

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Dear all,

In light of the recently announced changes the project is suffering, we would like to share some thoughts and feelings that most of us are experiencing.

On Wednesday, 12 August 2020, we had several meetings (by groups) with the Site Director, Ricardo, as well as the Human Resources Director, Felicia, and our Operation Managers, Hugo and Fernando regarding the new measures they wish to apply from 1st October 2020.

The meetings were outrageous: several changes related to working conditions, salary and therefore the employment contract were presented to us as being the result of an advance and recognition of our work, as if they were good news, but in reality we are going to suffer a significant loss on our salary and life well-being.

The changes, which will be included in the amendment to the employment contract they ask us to sign before 1 October 2020, which will be a telework contract, effective from that date, are as follows:

  • A bonus of 15 euros gross per month as defrayal for the use of internet at home (from October 1st 2020).
  • A bonus of 50 euros gross per month (as of January 1, 2021) for the complexity of the product we support.
  • 100 euros gross during three months (October, November and December 2020).
  • The abolition of the meal card.

The changes sprint towards a cut to our basic pay. The same pay we were already struggling and fighting to be reviewed, since at present it goes against the trend of the country as a whole where living costs are increasing. This creates an overwhelming environment of doubt and lack of motivation that must be addressed.

It goes without saying how important the meal allowance benefit is to everyone. This is a sad step down the personal growth ladder we have in our lives, as well as a stab in the back for all the work and trust given to the company over the months and years.

This proposed new salary complement of 50 (fifty) euros plus 15 (fifteen), if added directly to the base salary, will be taxed by the government and greatly reduced. And honestly, 15 euros for internet expenses is a ridiculous sum, taking into account the monthly cost of electricity and internet to power our work stations are well above this amount. It is not enough, given the financial and psychological commitment made by each of us in order to best meet this new challenge of working from home - in exceptionally precarious conditions for many of us:

  • Some of us are still working with personal computers; the connecting wires were purchased by us with our own money.
  • Unlike our colleagues at the parent company - our client - who provided the equipment to its employees, the chairs and desks we work on have been paid for out of our personal funds once again. Witness the consideration our employer gives us at this point, when elsewhere there is better treatment for the same work done - even under more deplorable conditions for us, outsourced employees.

This is not acceptable in the least, for the cheap offering it is. The question of what happens if one of us refuses to sign the contract addendum regarding the meal allowance removal, and the reason for it being removed in the first place remain, to this point, unanswered.

Another source of preoccupation is the frozen state of the seniority salary increase :

This year, in addition to having no adjustment to our salaries following the Portuguese minimum wage increase, there was no addition to the wages according to seniority. The justification given at the time was the ongoing Covid-19 situation. However, contrary to what most sectors experienced, we had an actual increase in our workload at the peak of the pandemic – as much as five times the regular workload. The given justification is simply not valid.

Moreover, there has not been a single mention or talk of a reward for the stress endured during those times, a time which proved how poor you are at negotiating with clients when it comes to your own employee’s well-being. A fruit box was given to us at some point but honestly that was not nearly enough to provide the extra support needed then: it was – and still is – seen as a cheap measure to make the company look good, and nothing but that, provided many of us had to resort to anxiety medication to be able to keep working at the pace required. The decent thing to do, if you indeed had no way of providing a salary incentive, would have been to give extra vacation days as a reward. Instead, all we ever hear of is increasing cuts, downsizing, and client demands.

Recently, our general director for Portugal, Greece, and Italy gave an interview to Executiva website (http://executiva.pt/benedita-miranda-sitel/ Published on July 30, it provides a general overview of Benedita’s work life and how the company is managed and sees itself. We read it with growing dismay, as some statements given are so contradictory to the reality of the company it flirts with the absurd. Among other things, there is mention of the Company becoming yet more focused on people, that its objective is to continue being a reference as an employer, where employees are valued and their skills potentialized and that this is one of the main secrets for the excellent performance and growth of the company – a company doing so well it is opening a new site in Greece.

Is this truly the best way to be more people-focused? To encourage to be better, to be ambitious, to be bold and build trust, work together, to wow customers, to show care about the employees? Is everyone at the company willing and readily available to reduce ten to fifteen percent of their net monthly wage, with no apparent reason? To proudly make the statement the Company is not like the others? Is this the best way to say we are the Company, and we stand by the advisors’ side? A straight answer would be very much appreciated on these. You have had enough feedback and time to think as it is.

In conclusion and frighteningly real terms, we are and will be earning less money, for reasons unknown to us – the ones whose work the company sells - in a growing economy that is becoming more expensive to live in. You are already spending less on electricity, internet, climate control and general maintenance since we started working from home - in the end transferring these costs to ourselves – and, on top of that, you froze our salaries and cancelled the seniority raise. Taking the meal allowance away casts a terrible greedy light on the Company and its Management. It is indeed difficult for us to imagine how the project will survive given the general feeling of discontent your decisions and contradictions have fostered.

Please, keep in mind that we are also the ones who allow you to develop, we are your eyes, your ears and your mouth; we facilitate your recruitment by bringing future employees through word of mouth, we spread your reputation, we are your reputation.

Treat us with respect and dignity. Respect our rights and our commitment. We will do the same.

We do hope you reconsider and finally take our feedback into consideration.