Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I have worked for several call centres and some experiences have been good and some experiences have been okay. However, I am happy to have a job today, and I feel that my current employer is doing the best it can to take care of myself and my fellow employees.

Since the threat of COVID-19 presented itself to our country they have continued to increase the measures at all of their offices in Kingston and Montego Bay, and some of their requirements are greater than the Government's requirements. In fact, they were doing it before the Government required it.

I write to you today to ask a few questions because I see and hear a lot of negativity around the industry before COVID-19, and even moreso today. It pains me to see it because no industry in Jamaica is perfect, no employer is perfect, but companies only make money if their employees come to work.

Employees will only come to work if they like their job, like their co-workers, feel safe, have job security, and feel as though they are making an impact. I know that my employer and many other employers want to do whatever possible to keep us safe because if we aren't safe, or if we are ill, they could not make money and could not afford to pay us.

What if Jamaica didn't have a business process outsourcing (BPO) industry? What if 40,000 workers were sitting at home long before COVID-19? And what if graduates like myself never had an opportunity? The opportunity that BPOs have provided myself and others is tremendous as I left school with a business degree and went straight into a call centre as an agent. I then became a supervisor, then a workforce manager, then an operations manager, and now I am head of operations and I am proudly supporting my family members who have not been as fortunate or have not been able to provide at the level I can.

I would also like to ask what a union could do for the BPO operators or the BPO employees? I see O'Neil Grant, Senator Kevan Gayle, Lambert Brown, Granville Valentine, and several others over the years talking about what they could do if the industry were organised.

Gentlemen, please answer me exactly, what could you do? Do any of you know the industry or how it works? Have you ever spent any time to learn what it actually does other than listen to the noise and make reckless comments?

I am 29 years old and I have seen what unions have done to the sugar industry, bauxite industry, manufacturing, and other industries in Jamaica. Many of those industries are dead or dying. Please don't come and try to be opportunistic and destroy yet another good thing for so many people.

The BPO sector is still in its infancy and has more opportunities to come, but we as a people need to see the opportunity for more than just today. If we are to make it sustainable the employees as well as the companies have a duty to protect it. The Jamaican Government, in my eyes, has done a good job so far. Truthfully, it is new to all of us and no one has the right answer.

Everyone is just trying to do right by everyone, and I can't see any employer or Government wanting their people to get sick. What happened at Alorica could have happened at a manufacturer, it could have happened at a food distribution centre, it could have happened at a market or a supermarket. Let us look at the positives and not always the negatives and get through this as one nation.


A proud Jamaican and BPO employee


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With signs that the COVID-19 pandemic isn't anywhere near ending, how are you coping?
I am impatient to get back to normal life
I'm happy to spend time with family
I'm concerned for those who are vulnerable
I'm anxious about my health
I'm lonely
I'm angry about restrictions to my freedom


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