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Kura call centre in Forres ensures staff safety during coronavirus pandemic


By Garry McCartney

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Kura’s contact centre at Forres Enterprise Park has taken protective measures for its staff.
Kura’s contact centre at Forres Enterprise Park has taken protective measures for its staff.

STAFF at a local call centre remain coronavirus-free as industry colleagues in the Central Belt make calls for employers to take better precautions at work.

A spokeswoman for outsourcer Kura, who employ a large number of customer service agents at Strathcona House on Forres Enterprise Park, has confirmed there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19, largely due to moving quickly to adjust during the lockdown.

She said: "Our processes follow the guidance set out by the government. The safety and wellbeing of our people is our number one priority."

Trade union group, Call Centre Collective (CCC), is demanding the buildings are made safer following outbreaks in contact centres: in July there was a cluster linked to the Sitel call centre in Motherwell, the Kura call centre on Swan Street in Glasgow was shut down on September 4 after a worker was found to have the virus, and on Monday September 21 there were reports of a coronavirus outbreak in a NHS24 call centre in South Queensferry.

CCC claims more action is needed to ensure Covid-19 will not spread in more call centres where employees are expected to return. The group wants testing for all staff and for trade union safety representatives to inspect workplaces even where there is no organised union presence.

Regional secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Craig Anderson, said, "Employers should publish their risk assessments so workforces and the public can have confidence we’re not going to see another SITEL or Kura."

Prof. Phil Taylor of Strathclyde University published a report identifying hazards in Scottish call centres in the context of Covid-19.

He said: "Workers should only go back to their workplace once it is safe - that means no more hot-desking, the highest standards to cleansing and sanitation, proper distancing measures and ensuring that heating and ventilation systems do not recirculate used air that spreads disease."

A Kura spokeswoman said the company closed all of its sites at 6am on March 24 and asked employees to stay at home on full pay until a plan on home-working was formulated.

She added: "Our employees have been, and continue to, work from home - for those who could not for personal reasons, we retained them on full pay until such times that we had a work from office plan. We are supporting our employees with increased technology support tools, 24 hour wellbeing assistance and weekly wellbeing sessions.

"The Forres office re-opened at the end of July to a small number of people who can not work from home - our hope is to get these employees back to home working where possible. All are socially distanced and following strict guidelines around access controls, temperature checking, mask wearing and advice on handwashing."



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