Introducing the "cyber coolie"

The term "coolie" has previously been viewed as a derogatory term for unskilled Asian labour, but now there is said to be a "cyber coolie" - an expensively educated, highly intelligent graduate, who is wasting their talents performing exhausting, mindlessly repetitive tasks for the call centre industry, a sector which it claims offers no career prospects for the majority of its workers.

However, what is arguably the most degrading aspect of such employment is the nature of call centre management - said to be characterised by dreary work, unsocial hours and Big Brother-style observation. What is more, it is argued in the article - Painful truth of the call centre cyber coolies by Amelia Gentleman of The Observer, that the true monotony of the work is disguised by 'camouflaging work as fun' - introducing cafes, popcorn booths and ping-pong tables into the offices.

The article, based on research conducted by the V. V. Giri National Labour Institute, goes on to suggest Indian call centre workers are employed under constant surveillance, in an atmosphere similar to that in '19th-century prisons or Roman slave ships'. Despite the relatively high salaries, and modern working environments, the study concludes that 'most of these youngsters are in fact burning out their formative years as "cyber coolies",' doing low-end jobs.

Personally, I couldn't help feeling that the cyber coolie is by no means an Indian phenomenon and probably already a growing feature of a nation with more graduates than are required by British-based industries.

No comments: