Employees at the Naggo Head, Portmore office of Conduent, the largest business process outsourcing (BPO) firm in Jamaica, were advised by management over the weekend that a member of staff has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Background details provided by an employee is that the individual is a sister of a female worker at Alorica, another BPO firm, whose Portmore office has been at the epicentre of the local outbreak of the virus. The sibling at Alorica reportedly tested positive in mid-April.
Up to the end of last week, Conduent staff members who had all been sent home under the St Catherine lockdown, had been waiting for the outcome of the test of their colleague
The letter from management in an email dated April 30, but which was distributed to staff over the weekend, asked them to stay home and await contact, if any, from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
The letter reads: “Hello Team Jamaica! Thank you for your continued dedication, resilience and teamwork throughout this difficult time. As day-to-day life with COVID-19 continues and we operate within the community spread phase of the virus, I want to advise that it has been confirmed that one of our colleagues has, unfortunately, contracted the virus. The Ministry of Health has been informed.
“The one confirmed case is from our Naggo Head site which, as you know, is currently closed as a result of the Government-imposed lockdown.
“Employees who were in close contact with the individual diagnosed with the virus have already been informed and are currently working from home. This individual will not return to work at Naggo Head until… has been tested and completed a quarantine period.
“Your safety and well-being are our top priority, and I want to assure you that we continue our robust sanitisation and disinfecting efforts at all sites, and have increased this at Naggo Head.”
The letter added that, “THREE things to remember: If you have been tested for COVID-19 – You MUST let us know!
“Quarantine for 14 days after testing takes place. If you have been contacted by MOH (Ministry of Health) as a Contact Trace – You MUST let us know!
“If you have symptoms – TAN A YUH YAAD! And let us know how you are doing.
“Your actions will allow us to do everything we can to help you through a difficult time, and it will protect everyone else in our facilities.
“Thank you for all you are doing to keep yourselves, your loved ones and your co-workers safe during this time. I truly hope to see you all in the very near future!”
Conduent is considered to be Jamaica’s largest outsourcing operation with over 7,000 workers. It was at one time host to the back office operations for retail giant, Amazon.
The company operates locally in St Catherine, Kingston and Montego Bay.
The Naggo head centre has been closed for nearly three weeks under the St Catherine lockdown.
Now the workers are unable to return to work because of the confirmation that the employee is positive for the virus.
Alorica was the first BPO company in Jamaica where a case of COVID-19 emerged.
Subsequently, well over 200 employees and some relatives of theirs have tested positive for the virus.
The MOH is also engaged in testing for another BPO firm in Kingston, where a COVID-19 case has reportedly emerged.
The management of Conduent, in its email to the employees, said it has been working on COVID mitigation strategies for over a month.
It outlined that, “Prior to the arrival of the virus in Jamaica, we began our mitigation efforts and intensified these efforts as time progressed. We have always complied with all the protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and even instituted additional measures to minimise the risk of infection and subsequent spread at all of our sites.
“This included the mobilisation of a COVID-19 task force, the installation of water stations and hand sanitisation machines, issuing of masks, introduction of infrared temperature checks for all employees and cleaning of all workspaces before and after each shift, checkered seating, and the implementation of a work-from-home programme....”
It advised the employees to stay safe. The email from management said, “I know that this might stir many emotions for you, including fear, worry and sadness. I want to encourage you and let you know that while this is an unprecedented time, we have gotten through this together so far and we will continue to do so.
“To maximise our efforts to reduce the spread, I want to remind everyone that reporting is key to keeping us all safe through this.”