Two out of three call center employees earn a minimum wage

Photo: Euro notes (via dts news agency)
Photo: Euro notes (via dts news agency)

Berlin (dts news agency) – The salaries of employees in call centers are far below the national average for all industries. This emerges from the response of the federal government to a small question from the Bundestag member Pascal Meiser (Die Linke). The newspapers of the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (Friday editions) report on it.
The mean gross monthly salary of full-time call center employees rose by 24.6 percent to 2,049 euros between 2009 and 2019. Compared to the average salary in the economy as a whole, which rose by 27.2 percent to EUR 3,401 in the same period, the increase was significantly lower. The mean income, the median, is a statistical value that is more robust against outliers than the average value.

Media remuneration describes the income at which there are just as many people with a higher as with a lower wage. The average wage of a full-time call center employee actually fell in the first three months of this year: it fell by 2.7 percent compared to the previous year to EUR 2,467 gross. The average monthly earnings of marginal part-time employees in call centers fell even more sharply by 16.7 percent, from 383 to 319 euros.

At the end of last year, 43,000 full-time employees or 61.7 percent of the industry were receiving low wages as defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This means that the minimum wage share is more than three times as high as in the entire economy (18.8 percent). According to the government response, which is based on figures from the Federal Employment Agency and the Federal Statistical Office, there were around 1,600 call center operations in Germany with a total of more than 70,000 employees in December 2019.

That corresponds to an increase of almost 25 percent in ten years. In Hesse (2,588 euros), Hamburg (2,355 euros) and Bavaria (2,350 euros), the average monthly salary of full-time call center employees was the highest at the end of 2019. In Saxony (1,837 euros), Bremen (1,886 euros) and Schleswig-Holstein (1,905 euros), call center employees received a particularly low salary. “Call centers are playing an increasingly important role in our economy, be it in customer service or sales,” said Pascal Meiser, who is the spokesman for trade union policy in his group, the RND. “The boom in online retail is likely to further intensify this development.” It is all the more scandalous that the jobs that are created in the call centers are increasingly dependent on general wage developments. “The federal government must finally take seriously the problems of this industry and ensure that decent wages are paid in the industry,” said left-wing politician Meiser. From his point of view, a first step would be a minimum wage of at least twelve euros per hour and a complete ban on unfounded time limits, which currently in many places has resulted in employees being reluctant to organize themselves into unions and to fight for collective agreements.