JIS News

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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced the closure of all business process outsourcing (BPO) facilities in the country for 14 days, starting on Wednesday (April 22).
  • The decision follows the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at Alorica call centre in Portmore, St. Catherine, where, so far, 122 of the 787 workers have tested positive for the disease, which has resulted in the country’s confirmed cases surging to 223.
  • Speaking at a virtual press conference at Jamaica House on April 20, the Prime Minister said the move to close the call centres was a very difficult decision, as there is no easy solution.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced the closure of all business process outsourcing (BPO) facilities in the country for 14 days, starting on Wednesday (April 22).

The decision follows the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at Alorica call centre in Portmore, St. Catherine, where, so far, 122 of the 787 workers have tested positive for the disease, which has resulted in the country’s confirmed cases surging to 223.

Speaking at a virtual press conference at Jamaica House on April 20, the Prime Minister said the move to close the call centres was a very difficult decision, as there is no easy solution.

“We fully understand the role the BPOs play in providing employment for many Jamaicans, but the health and welfare of the people of Jamaica take precedence over everything else at this time during the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

Mr. Holness said he has advised the BPOs that the critical processes of the BPOs will be allowed to continue under strict management.

“In fact, we are going to appoint one of our agencies, along with the Ministry of Health, to closely examine those minimum operations, because we don’t want that to be used as a guise for full operation,” the Prime Minister emphasised.

“I want the country to understand that this was not an easy decision. Closing the BPOs is not a single or absolute action, unless you intend to close them for good or forever, because these operations are not meant to be closed; they are meant to give you 24-hour stand-up service through hurricanes, natural disasters and catastrophes,” he said.

Mr. Holness explained that the BPOs offer critical services to vital industries or sectors, such as logistics and shipping, telecommunications and banking, which if disrupted would largely affect food and remittances coming into the island.

At the same time, he said he is heartened by the level of proactiveness by the BPOs with regard to implementing measures to ensure that their businesses continue to operate, despite the changes that the virus has caused.

Along with taking advantage of the Government’s provision to move their equipment to homes, the BPOs have also moved close to 13,000 of its 40,000 workers to work from home, Mr. Holness noted.

“We look forward to the reopening of the BPOs, but under different conditions. Obviously, we don’t want to lose the livelihoods that the BPOs support, but at this time the health of the nation takes priority,” he added.

The Prime Minister said he will be asking members of his Cabinet to start looking at their operations and to advise as to what other areas and industries, with working conditions and employee concentration similar to the BPO sector, would need special regulation.

“So, we are going to be putting in place regulations very quickly, so it would help if businesses self-identify and immediately put in measures before the Government does it, so consider this as notice,” he said.

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