April 15, 2020 -- Plymouth MP Luke Pollard is calling on city firms that still have workers in their buildings - particularly call centre provider Sitel - to reassure staff they are safe.
The Sutton and Devonport MP wants all companies where employees can’t work from home to ensure they are safe – and feel safe.
It comes as he reveals he is still receiving messages from worried staff at Sitel’s Plymouth base, in the Ship offices at Derriford, nearly three weeks after writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlining concerns about working practices, including social distancing, at the building.
Mr Pollard said he has yet to hear back from Mr Hancock, though understands the minister has more pressing items on his agenda at present, but has been contacted by bosses at Sitel.
However, he said that despite the company stressing it is taking steps to safeguard workers, he continues to receive correspondence from worried employees.
The Labour MP said he agrees that the Sitel contact centre, which is handling NHS 111 calls, is an essential business and it is correct that it continues to operate.
But he wants management to be aware of the fears and worries staff and their families have as the coronavirus continues to claim victims in Plymouth and around the UK.
And he said that other employers, including call centres run by other companies, must do this too, as he believes the UK lockdown is likely to be extended, possibly for "many more weeks".
"I want companies to reassure staff that steps have been taken," he said. "I would expect every company in our city to go the extra mile to protect staff and reassure staff that they are safe – and that includes Sitel.
"I have never had as many complaints about one company as I have about Sitel," he added. "That tells me there is a problem the management need to address."
Mr Pollard said workers are a company’s biggest asset and if "a sizeable proportion" of a workforce feels unsafe it is not good for business.
He continued: "As the lockdown is likely to be extended there will be workplaces that will remain closed and those that will be open.
"So concerns that have been expressed up to this point need to be addressed. These are exceptional times and businesses may need to do more than they would otherwise be doing."
Sitel has stressed it is an essential business staffed by key workers and is carrying out strict safety precautions at its huge Plymouth office.
The company said it was key to supporting the healthcare sector – NHS 111 calls are taken at The Ship – and has insisted it is working hard to keep workers safe.
It has previously said: "Currently, our UK sites remain open so that we may continue supplying essential business support to key public services and essential business including healthcare, insurance, public sector, telecommunications and the food chain.
"Our sites are following strict social distancing practices in line with recent Government directives and increased cleaning measures to ensure our teams, including those with key and essential workers status, have every resource available to continue serving communities in the safest manner possible. We are also implementing Sitel at Home solutions when possible.
"All agents continue to receive training, in line with the guidance of the clients we serve. Our training tools and internal best practices have also supported many of the clients we serve at an enterprise level.
"We can confirm that our sites in the UK are supporting the NHS providing non-clinical advice. All staff engaged in supporting the NHS have been issued with ‘key worker’ status enabling them to continue to provide support from within the site subject to adherence with the social distancing measures implemented."
The company has been contacted for further comment.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
We are a global outsourcing provider of customer experience management with 150 offices across 25 countries and more than 75,000 associates speaking 48 languages. Our contact center associates deliver customer experiences every day. We are here to help you with any business process outsourcing needs you might have.
Published: Friday, April 17, 2020
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