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Campaign to protect job move to India

Lloyds TSB Group Union has collected hundreds of signatures in protest at plans to examine moving jobs.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2003 21:34 IST

Financial services workers in Edinburgh have launched a campaign to safeguard their jobs amid fears that thousands of posts in the city will be moved to India.

Members of the Lloyds TSB Group Union (LTU) collected hundreds of signatures outside the banking giant's Hanover Street branch in protest at the group's pilot schemes to examine moving jobs abroad.

Last week, Lloyds TSB-owned Scottish Widows revealed plans to establish up to 50 back-office processing positions in India. Lloyds TSB has already confirmed it will move 1500 back-office jobs to India by the end of 2004. Abbey National also plans to move an estimated 100 Scottish Provident data processing posts from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Bangalore.

LTU representatives claimed support from about 90 per cent of Lloyds TSB customers asked to sign the petition at the first of a series of Edinburgh protests. Supporters hope to gather 500,000 signatures outside the bank's UK branches and offices.

Peter O'Grady, assistant secretary of the LTU, said: "For a company that's making over £3 billion a year, our view is that they have a moral and social responsibility to keep jobs in this country."

Union chiefs have already met a group of Edinburgh MPs and plan to lobby MSPs and the Chamber of Commerce for support.
One Scottish Widows worker who signed the petition said many colleagues were angered by the overseas pilot scheme. He told the local media: "I don't agree with exporting jobs to India when you've got unemployment in this country."

Edinburgh West MP John Barrett has called for a House of Commons debate on outsourcing of jobs to cheaper labour markets. He said: "The only reason these companies have become major players is because of what their UK employees have put in over the decades. Their customer base is in this country and they ought to be looking after the employees they have here."

In Wales, a call centre recruitment specialist has warned that companies who export their call centre operations abroad will miss out on the local knowledge their customers need.

Criticising National Rail Enquiries' chief executive Chris Scoggins' claim that Indian call centre workers are more educated and do a better job than those in Britain,

Paul Broderick, operations director for Contact Us, the specialist call centre recruitment agency arm of Acorn, said: "I was disappointed but not surprised by the recent statement by Chris Scoggins that all UK business would benefit from moving their call centre work offshore," he said.

"In evidence to MPs on the transport select committee, he said the service could be improved if outsourced to India and that the move could also save rail firms up to £25m over several years. It is no wonder that we hear reports of a de-motivated workforce when business leaders from some of the UK's biggest institutions are set on derailing our industry."

Broderick warned that while staff in India may possess excellent qualifications they did not always have the local knowledge that customers relied on.

"We must not make the mistake of thinking that a degree or post-graduate qualification is vital in delivering a call centre service," he said. "Call centre work is essentially about inter-personal communication. We hear horror stories about offshore agents not understanding what customers really want, as well as not being able to recognise British household names."