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SYKES won't pay: how to proceed?

Published on Nov 23, 2020
SYKES profits from not paying their workers for extra hours worked, remaining holidays and bonuses when their contracts have come to an end. A member of FAU Berlin is now fighting for his right to get his money.
SYKES won't pay: how to proceed?

Comrades in front of the labour court

SYKES is a call center. This multinational company (over 50000 workers worldwide) makes high revenues by offering outsourced customer services for third-party companies (like Play Station, Sony, Klarna or Squaretrade) - and by paying their employees minimum wage.

But sometimes this is not enough for SYKES. When a worker's contract comes to an end, it is not unusual for the extra hours they worked, their remaining holidays and their performance bonuses to "mysteriously" disappear. What can a worker do in this situation, as the days go by, the bills pile up and HR stops replying to their emails?

Joe*, a member of the labour union FAU Berlin, found himself in exactly this situation: “After I quit the job and claimed my unpaid hours, bonuses and holidays, the HR department tried to confuse me, but I asked the FAU Berlin for help and, with the aid of my comrades, I initiated the correct procedure to claim my money”.

The first step in claiming your pay after terminating your contract (in German, Kündigung) is to prepare a notification letter (in German, Abmahnung) specifying all the money that the worker is claiming. “Sometimes it is difficult to calculate how much SYKES owes you, but fortunately the FAU Berlin offered their experience and expertise and helped me prepare this letter”, says Joe. And don’t forget to send the notification by registered post (in German, Einschreiben Einwurf)! Note that this has to be done in the first weeks after the contract ends, because if you wait too long, you might lose the right to enforce your claim!

If the Abmahnung doesn't work, there are other steps we can take: “I never expected SYKES to respond to my Abmahnung, so immediately after sending it, I sat down with my comrades from FAU Berlin to start preparing the paperwork for my legal claim”, says Joe. Since SYKES did not respond, Joe and his comrades went to the labor court (Arbeitsgericht) together to file a claim for payment.

This is actually very easy to do, because there is a service at the Arbeitsgericht that helps you file the lawsuit (the so-called Rechtsantragstelle ). They do however recommend seeking advice before doing this. FAU Berlin offers free counselling at their union help desk - this is available to members and non-members alike!

The FAU stands by the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all. And so Joe and his comrades got together and filed the lawsuit: “It was a glorious moment, I could feel all the support from my comrades who helped me with the paperwork and came to court with me. It was enormously satisfying to take this action against SYKES!!”.

Since then, HR has stopped answering Joe's emails, so he and his comrades will have to wait for the court's decision. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: there is no end to SYKES' demands on their workers. The company tries to avoid paying them parts of their salary, bonuses disappear, breaks never materialise, overtime hours somehow don’t show up in their systems, team leaders constantly ask for more efficiency (even if workers are already giving 100%), etc. “Lots of people complain about this or send emails, but if we want to improve working conditions, we have to organize together, and that is easier and more effective with the support of FAU Berlin”, says Joe.

FAU Berlin will continue the fight to support Joe until he gets the money he has earned from his labour and that the multinational company is trying to keep. One supporter reveals that this is only the beginning: "We also want to improve the working conditions of our comrades who are still working there, and we are happy to welcome more workers to the FAU Berlin to help us fight the giant. We will support you, but we also need you on our side!" As Joe says: “If more workers join the union, we can really achieve a lot of things. Any change would lead to a better situation, most of the workers are fed up and waiting for something to happen. And FAU Berlin has the experience and expertise that the workers need to turn their rage into effective organization and direct action. Pure dynamite!”

Click here to join the FAU Berlin and support Joe in his struggle:

 SYKES profits from not paying their workers for extra hours worked, remaining holidays and bonuses when their contracts have come to an end. A member of FAU Berlin is now fighting for his right to get his money. FAU Berlin – 7 Jun 12

 

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