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COVID-19 Outbreak Hits Virgin Media UK Call Centre in Scotland UPDATE

Monday, July 20th, 2020 (7:53 am) - Score 6,068

Call centre staff working for broadband ISP Virgin Media UK on the upper floor of the Sitel site in Motherwell (North Lanarkshire, Scotland) have reportedly been sent home after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were discovered in the building on Maxim Park, which ironically started with the ‘NHS Test and Trace’ team that occupy the same site.

The building itself is home to around 200 people. Meanwhile the NHS team, where the outbreak began, are present on the ground floor but people from all floors tend to intermingle. At the time of writing around 7 people are believed to have tested positive for the virus and Sitel is currently in the process of testing all of the workers, while also closing the building in order to conduct a deep clean.

Sitel itself informed the BBC that they “take the safety and wellbeing of our staff very seriously” and are “urgently investigating” the situation. Meanwhile a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said, “Where potential clusters of cases develop we must find them and act quickly to prevent further spread and we are grateful to local partners for their swift response.”

However, one of Virgin Media’s call centre agents, who also works in the building, told the Daily Record that there was a lack of safety measures at the Sitel facility (i.e. limited social distancing – especially at lunch time when they share the same tables, few people wearing masks, empty hand sanitisers etc.).

A Spokesperson for NHS Test and Trace said:

“We are aware of a local outbreak of Covid-19 at the Sitel site in Motherwell. This is being managed by Sitel and colleagues in NHS Lanarkshire, who are following appropriate test and protect action in line with Scottish Government advice.

We take the safety and wellbeing of our staff very seriously. Everyone at the site is currently working from home while a deep clean takes place, and will be offered a test within the next 24 hours.”

The building is expected to re-open on Tuesday, but naturally staff should only be allowed back in if they’ve received a negative test result for the Coronavirus. Meanwhile Labour MSP, Monica Lennon, said: “Contact centres, like Sitel in Lanarkshire, have been named and shamed for their treatment of staff, when many of them could have worked from home … We need a robust Test and Protect system and sanctions against bad bosses who put public health at risk.” We have asked Virgin Media for a comment and await their response.

UPDATE 9:02am

We’ve had a response from Virgin Media. At the present time none of the operator’s own staff have tested positive for the virus, but tests have only just started.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said:

“The safety of our people, whether they work directly or indirectly for Virgin Media, is always our top priority. Virgin Media is one of multiple organisations who use Sitel’s services at the site and we are currently in contact with the company to ensure all appropriate and necessary steps are taken in coordination with Public Health Scotland.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Chris says:

    Yet another example of companies putting profit before people and not taking the appropriate steps to actually ensure staff are safe.

    1. JitteryPinger says:

      I looked at a roll with Sitel in that call centre, felt like it wasn’t a good idea how they advertised the positions and also lacked about between 3 & 4000 pounds salary compared to direct employment with Virgin.

  2. Polite Grammar Pedant says:

    The first comment should be we hope the people get better soon and the outbreak is contained. People also have a responsibility to social distance themselves, wear masks etc.

    By the way, it’s role not roll….

  3. Qq says:

    I actually work in that building for VM/Sitel & it’s actually not truthful at all about what us being said there. The hand sanitiser is refilled constantly. They leave white/blue roll for you to leave the bathrooms (wash hands then pick a bit off to open the door then put in the bin directly to the right after leaving). Break rooms are socially distanced as are desks. Many are working from home and leaves more than 3-4 seats space, desks are wiped down as are appliances once someone finishes their shifts. No idea what happens at Track Trace side but everything has been handled appropriately given the circumstances.

  4. Ryan mcauley says:

    This doesn’t shock me I worked their and this is the company who coerced me into not attending my grandad funeral. Everyone one would jam packed into the tiny canteen area and probably spreading it there considering how small of an area it was with about 8 lunch tables to suit about 300 people

    1. Ryan says:

      Tried to coerce rather*

    2. Your Line Manager says:

      Probably not the brightest thing to post under your real name.

    3. Ryan says:

      My line manager was a clown with hardly half a braincell. Like post below said I don’t work there now so I’m comfortable posting my real name given I’ve been a member of this site for close to about 6 or 7 years

    4. Your Line Manager says:

      You never know when you might need a reference.

  5. Qq says:

    He most likely doesn’t work there now anyway.

  6. janetstewart says:

    please can you help me i am trying to contact to cancel my partners phone he passed away on30th march 2020 i have notified virgin via text message but they have not got back to me i have enough stress without virgin chasing money .
    [admin note: personal details removed]
    please reply to the e mail below

    1. Qq says:

      @Janet this isn’t a virgin support forum. Also please refrain from posting personal information online.

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