Row over British city exporting jobs to India

3rd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Council chiefs in Britain's second city met with trade unions Friday after plans to outsource computer jobs to India sparked an angry response.

Birmingham City Council bosses held talks with members of Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, for talks over what Unite says is the first outsourcing of British local authority jobs to India.

Employees have already been recruited from India to shadow workers in the city in central England.

The jobs come under Service Birmingham, a joint venture between the council -- Europe's largest local authority, representing more than one million people -- and business process outsourcing firm Capita.

Capita took on 17 support staff in its information technology and human resources departments in India, and could recruit another 38 in August. Unite claims the number could rise to 100 by 2012.

"It beggars belief that council workers will be forced to train workers from overseas to do their jobs so Capita and Birmingham Council can lift and shift them abroad," said Unite national officer Peter Allenson.

"We fear this could be just the tip of the iceberg and other councils could follow suit. Thousands of public sector jobs could go."

Service Birmingham says nobody in the city has lost their job as a result of the move.

English local authorities are facing cuts in central government funding as Prime Minister David Cameron's administration tries to cut Britain's record budget deficit.

The city council, like Britain's national government, is run by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Lib Dem council deputy leader Paul Tilsley said Capita had created hundreds of jobs for Birmingham.

"The current offshoring proposal involves 17 vacant jobs and a possible 38 jobs which are either vacant or filled by temps," he told the Birmingham Mail newspaper.

Labour opposition leader Albert Bore insisted the move was about cost-cutting.

"Offshoring jobs to India undermines the future of Birmingham," he said.

"At no time have the council said what savings are to be made, but it is obvious that is what they intended by this action."

Service Birmingham said it was committed to operational efficiency.

"We therefore need to offer the council the best combination of operating models to deliver cost savings and efficiency gains while maintaining our existing service levels.

"We are talking about a limited number of back office technical roles."

© 2011 AFP

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