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Indian IT firms to watch as Trump taps millionaire as labour secy

world Updated: Dec 09, 2016 21:46 IST
Yashwant Raj
Andy Puzder

President-elect Donald Trump walks with Andy Puzder at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on November 19. (AP FILE)


US president-elect Donald Trump has tapped another millionaire to his team, which has already been called the richest and brassiest — with all the generals on it — in US history. Andy Puzder, a fast food executive, will be his labour secretary.

Indian IT companies operating in the US will be tracking this appointment closely as the labour department administers the hiring of foreign workers on H-1B visas, used extensively by these firms. New Delhi will be keeping an eye on Puzder too.

Trump, who is working to disentangle himself from his businesses over potential conflicts of interest, will keep his job as executive producer of the TV show that propelled him to celebrity and in whose earnings he had a stake.

Puzder owns a company that runs fast-food franchises Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr and is somewhat similar to the president-elect in style — brash and colourful, known for racy ads — and substance.

“Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labor,” Trump said in a statement.

Puzder has opposed Obamacare, arguing it has hurt business, as well as paid sick leave and substantial increase in minimum wages. He favoured automation to cut costs, which by definition would entail reducing personnel.

Among his many responsibilities as labour secretary will be one that Indian IT companies operating in the US will track most closely — allegations that American workers were laid off and replaced by foreign workers on the temporary H-1B work visas.

The labour department launched two investigations in recent months into the replacements by foreign workers on H-1B visa, mostly from India, at Disney’s Orlando facility and Southern California Edison, a public utility company.

H-1B hiring is likely to come under intense scrutiny by the Trump administration as the president-elect said the programme needs be reviewed, though he favours it and has himself used it in his own businesses.

And Jeff Sessions, attorney general nominee, is a strident opponent of the visa programme and as senator introduced legislations to reduce the annual intake as well as to make it prohibitively expensive for US companies.