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The debate continues

Outsourcing to India occupied centrestage with unending debates between firms and trade unions...

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 13:40 IST

Outsourcing of British jobs to India has been a major issue of contention not only in the UK but also in the US. The issue occupied centrestage with raging debates between Unions and the Got and is still a cause of worry for many in the UK.

In favour
Major threat to British jobs was felt when Telecom giant British Telecom unveiled its plans to move 8,400 jobs to India in February this year. The trail continued and a long list of British companies started moving their operations to India. Fidelity Investments, the UK's biggest retail fund manager, moved a chunk of its UK back-office operations to New Delhi.

Insurance company Aviva said it has plans to open a new call centre and develop a claims processing operation for its UK general insurance business in India. Reuters too has plans moving some of its UK operations to India.

Even National Rail Enquiries, which is putting its call centres up for tender, hinted it doesn't mind out-of-UK operations.

Though outsourcing to India came in for much support from the top Govt officials such as Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt and FCO Minister Mike O'Brien. O'Brien said UK has really benefited from tie-ups with Indian IT companies. He said: "India is being seen as the preferred global hub for software development and Business Process Outsourcing."

Peter Hain, Labour's Leader of the Commons and deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt also endorsed the outsourcing to India.

The Union View
While British companies are busy outsourcing operations to India, the workers' unions are strictly against the move. The Communications Workers Union organised a nationwide campaign to oppose call centre jobs being "exported" to India. Stepping up its campaign to try and force BT to back-down over plans to move thousands of jobs to India, CWU also called for a "Day of Protest" on March 20.

Trade Union Amicus also planned to call for a strike ballot of Norwich Union staff if it does not receive a promise on jobs, following Aviva's announcement to build a new call centre and develop a claims processing operation for its UK general insurance business in India.

First Published: Dec 26, 2003 11:45 IST