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Two weeks into Lock-Down - An Update from BPESA CEO Andy Searle

To all our members and stakeholders

More than two weeks have passed since the lock-down came into effect and we now know that it will stay in place until the end of April.

Cleary the decision to extend the shut down was not an easy one for the President and his team; a decision that was made on the back of deep consultation with key stakeholders, including business, and with as much relevant data and information as possible on the progression and impact of the virus, its’ impact on human lives and its impact on the economy.




Our focus

BPESA’s focus in the first two weeks of shut down was to keep the sector going, enabling operators to continue delivering essential services domestically and abroad. While the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition announced during his last update on Thursday evening the 2nd of April that call centres could continue to deliver essential services, including to international markets, the directions for this announcement were only gazetted on Thursday the 9th.




New requirements

The Directive came with updated conditions for health and safety in the workplace, these have subsequently been incorporated into our industry H,S&O protocols for COVID-19. In conjunction with the government directions, we drafted a document in which essential services delivered through call centres were mapped to the regulations, with descriptions and examples provided. This mapping proved to be very helpful to law enforcement officials on the ground and to us, particularly in KZN where there were real difficulties being experienced with the interpretation of the Disaster Management Act and the role of call centres therein.

The Directive also specifies that BPESA take responsibility for reporting on the status of essential service delivery through call centres; reporting weekly to the Ministers of Health and Trade, Industry and Competition.

Call Centres providing essential services locally and internationally will continue to self-regulate and will start reporting to BPESA as of next week on several elements of their operations and actions focused on preventing the spread of the virus.

We will also host a second webinar with Labour Lawyer Johnny Goldberg next week Tuesday at 15h00 to assist in supporting you with the many questions you have been raising during this time. Please register below for the session and send any questions you might have and would like included in the session through to Fran Swart.




Preparing for recovery

As important as it will be for us to keep focusing on dealing with the current crisis over the next three weeks, it will become equally important to start thinking, as a sector, about: sector recovery plans; putting in place workplace safety protocols and interventions to enable people upstream and downstream of the sector to return to work safely, and; triggering industry opportunities that may not have existed pre-Covid-19.

BPESA will facilitate these discussions over the coming days and weeks under direction from our Board and with inputs from our national crisis management team; who in turn will seek your inputs. We will work closely with our partners in the PPGI and the DTI as we plan and action the sector’s recovery.




In closing

Our sector has demonstrated incredible character in the face of great difficulty; shown full support for Government with the shut down and has demonstrated compliance to tough regulations; has persevered as a collective to get key objectives met; has fulfilled commitments to clients and stakeholders locally and abroad; and most importantly having done so with the wellbeing and safety of the workforce front and centre of every thought, decision and action.

We will start our PR campaign this weekend and will aim to tell our story, one of compassion, compliance, perseverance, bravery, commitment and hope.

Let’s see this through and #recovertogether for we are #stongertogether




On behalf of the BPESA team




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