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1,000 jobs on the line

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator ?richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012    

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MULTINATIONAL outsourcing company Convergys Corporation has put plans to open a call centre in Jamaica on hold, leaving 1,000 jobs hanging in the balance.

“We have decided to delay our entry into Jamaica, however, we do think there may be longer-term potential to enter Jamaica,” said media relations representative for Convergys, Brooke Beiting.

“We will review this decision, specifically taking into account client demand, on a quarterly basis,” Beiting told the Jamaica Observer.

Convergys is a US-based leader in integrated billing and is one of the largest agentassisted customer service companies in the world, employing approximately 70,000 people. Government announced last December that the company was investing millions of dollars in setting up a call centre in Montego Bay, St James; that would employ around 1,000 Jamaicans.

But the transaction appeared to hit a snag since then, with former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness claiming on Sunday that the current administration failed to close the deal.

Convergys refused to state exactly what has caused the company to postpone its entry into Jamaica. Yesterday the Observer was unable to contact Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton as his phone went to voicemail.

But Observer sources say the company has hesitated to go forward with the deal due to insufficient office space available for lease in the country.

“The deal is not dead, but Convergys wants space,” said a source, noting that the company specifically wants 50,000 square-feet of working space at one location.

According to another industry insider, the company’s only option may be to acquire its own property and build rather than lease.

Convergys handles billions of customer interactions per year, processing over one trillion wireless transactions per year for top companies in telecommunications, Internet, cable and broadband services, technology, financial services. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the firm has a presence in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

At the announcement last year, Former Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton said Montego Bay was chosen as the call centre’s site because of what Convergys deemed its status as a “top tourist destination and the strong customer service orientation” of the labour force there.

Noting several other favourable factors, Tufton said he was confident of the nation's attractiveness as an information communications technology and a business process outsourcing option.

The local business process outsourcing sector currently employs more than 11,000 Jamaicans.

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