One BPO provider in Nicaragua is relocating customer service and help desk agents to operations in a neighboring country as political and social instability reaches a new boiling point. The agents are night-shift workers who were unable to get to and from work due to widespread blockades in and around Managua, according to sources within the company.
“Unsupervised paramilitary forces are creating a state of chaos at night, putting our agents and operations at risk,” said the source, who requested to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety and the safety of the company’s workforce.
Note: A previous version of this story reported that more than one BPO was relocating agents. Upon further investigation, Nearshore Americas has learned that only one company is confirmed to be doing so.
State of Fear
The level of fear is unprecedented among BPOs in Central America. At this time, Nearshore Americas has elected not to report on the movements of specific BPO companies, because the danger of being targeted by the Ortega government is very real, our source insists.
“We just don’t know how the government will react to the news. If they learn that we are relocating agents they will likely take it as a sign of opposition. Just last night, two businesses were burned to the ground, including a youth radio station, just for talking about the situation on the airwaves. The whole situation has become less about business decisions and more about the political stance that companies have.”
It is unclear how long the Nicaraguan agents will remain abroad, but the general sense is that they’ll return when the situation calms down – if that ever happens. “We can’t confirm that we’ve moved people permanently, but we have multiple engagements and provide support from multiple countries, so we often move people around,” said the corporate communications manager at the BPO.
Since April 18, Nicaragua has been in a period of rebellion against the 11-year regime of President Daniel Ortega, resulting in street protests and violence from police and government-backed paramilitaries.
The crisis has so far resulted in over 150 deaths and counting. Nearshore Americas has also learned that hundreds of government troops are today amassing at university blockades, apparently preparing for a large-scale attack. Tensions are high, so the BPO is preparing for the worst by focusing on the safety of its agents.
“The company is really focused on taking care of its workers, actively considering the impacts on families and on sustaining incomes,” said another source.
ProNicaragua, the country’s investment promotions agency, declined to comment on the growing crisis.
Since many of the primary operating centers in Managua are difficult to get to, some providers are also establishing makeshift satellite locations – including inside hotel meeting rooms – that are situated in more suburban areas in order to ensure that agents can still do their work.
For the BPO that has moved its agents abroad, travel and accommodation is fully covered. It is unclear whether agents will be paid the same salaries as they get in Nicaragua, or will receive adjustments based on their temporary location.
For now, what is clear is that the situation in Nicaragua is fluid, and we will plan on additional reports on events unfold.
Photo by M.Torr
For more on Nicaragua BPO, check out these previous articles.