Fórsa is continuing to review the temporary external call centre established by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) last week to help deal with queries to its Covid-19 helpline.
In an extraordinary effort, departmental staff have processed over 500,000 pandemic unemployment claims. Along with the rejection of around 10% of claims, this has led to a surge in calls after the last two payment dates.
The head of Fórsa’s civil service division, Derek Mullen, said the union was seeking to review the data to test department’s argument for temporary outsourcing.
“Evidence from members on the ground suggests that the call volumes are lower than expected. So, we have posed the question as to whether the external contract needs to continue for the three-four week period proposed by the department,” he said.
Fórsa has also questioned the speed at which internal resources are being deployed, although it’s understood that additional passport service staff are to be reassigned to the helpline, alongside workers from the national shared services office (NSSO).
“We are also pressing the department to resolve technical issues, which may be a block in deploying more staff internally, and allowing more of this work to be done remotely,” said Derek.
Meanwhile, the union has asked why the Department is not advising customers to go to local Intreo centres, given the concerns arising at Kings Inn office. Earlier this week, large numbers of customers came to the Parnell Street office instead of their local centre.
Fórsa wants the department to follow Government policy by discouraging unnecessary travel. “We also continue to press for more remote working in the department, where two-thirds of staff are still coming in. Some of the work they’re doing could be performed remotely,” said Derek.