Almost a quarter of call centre workers have had their toilet breaks restricted, a union has claimed.
And seven out of ten claim they have suffered eye strain, says Unison, which conducted a survey of almost 800 workers.
It also alleges almost half of those questioned had problems with their hearing and voices, and 80% said their work caused them to feel stressed.
Call Centres - often these days referred to as Contact Centres - are big business in the North East. One person in 20 is employed in the industry, with some 60,000 people working across 145 centres.
The image has changed greatly in recent years, with the Tyne and Wear Development Company hosting annual awards to highlight best practice and individual achievement of employees who, it says, "make North East contact centres among the best in the world".
A recent report by Durham University's Geography Department also said many workers were reasonably content with their conditions, but most complained about low rates of pay and lack of opportunities for promotion.
However, Unison says its findings shows there is a long way to go.
"That this survey has shown more than a quarter have had their basic right to a toilet break restricted or monitored is bad enough, but the physical toll on call workers' eyes, ears and voices - the tools of their trade - is something that managers and organisations cannot ignore," said general secretary Dave Prentis.
"Workers rightly expect their employers to have a duty of care not only to their physical health, but also to their mental wellbeing, and the findings of this survey - that eight in 10 are experiencing stress, a quarter of them to a damaging degree - must be addressed urgently.
"The results of this survey should be a wake-up call for call centre employers."
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