If you drive by the large call centre in Kingston’s east end, you’re bound to notice something is a bit different.
The huge building at 100 Innovation Drive no longer bears the Startek name. There is a large ‘For Lease’ sign in front of the building. And looking at the building from the front, one can see straight through the empty building out the windows on the other side.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to work from home, Startek followed suit, closing their building and having employees work from home starting in October 2020. Local residents first became aware that the call centre, which employs over 300 people locally, had plans to close when a local resident took to Twitter to air her grievances.
“I deleted previous tweets about #ygk #Startek #KingstonON closing as I realized I misspelled the company name. As of April 21, 2021 my sis-in-law will be out of work after working 15 yrs as a Startek employee,” Twitter user @Deb_Is_Young, who identifies as Debbie Young Mayhew, said in a series of three tweets on Sunday, Mar. 7, 2021.
“Since closing the building in Oct last yr to staff working from home… And staff revising home space to create a viable office, the company has decided #Honduras is their preferred location now. 300 staff without a job. Severance pay calculated with what they would receive on EI. Over a specific amount of months to get by on,” she continued.
“So many purchased homes… At low interest rates and some starting families. Another slap to hard working people trying to get by on minimum wages.”
Multiple phone calls and emails to Startek from Kingstonist have gone unanswered over the course of two days, however, one employee at the Kingston location agreed to speak about the matter under the condition of anonymity.
“The Kingston operation lost their client,” the employee said, noting that the client is a confidential company.
“Three weeks ago, all staff were called to inform them operations were shutting down [on] April 21,” the employee continued, adding that no new client can be obtained at this time.
The employee said that all staff receiving are payouts and confirmed that reports of the closure were already circulating.
Startek has operated a location in Kingston for well over a decade.
At time of publication, Startek had not responded to any phone calls or emails. Kingstonist will update this article as more information becomes available.