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TV licence offshoring angers UK unions

The British Union workers have been objecting as they feel data security is weak in India, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 18:52 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

It is yet another move to outsource work to India and has evoked another burst of anger from trade union leaders. The UK's administration of TV licence fees, which incidentally has been rising every year, will be moved to India. The move has the approval of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the beneficiary of the fee that totals up to millions of pounds annually.

The unions are so livid that they have urged people to desist from paying the fee by direct debit. The payment can also be made by cheque. But most prefer to pay it in installments, which means they have to set up a direct debit for them.

The processing of TV licenses was outsourced to private firm Capita by the BBC. It was done by the Post Office until 2003. Capita, which also processes the Criminal Records Bureau, teachers’ pensions and the London Congestion Charge contracts, is to move the work from Bristol to Mumbai in 2007.

The Communication Workers Union has taken up the old refrain that data security may be weak in India and warned that identity frauds and security breaches are rife in Indian call centres.

The union is balloting 200 of its members at the firm on strike action. “A lot of blue-chip companies are bringing work back to the UK from India because of concerns about security,” alleged CWU spokesman Kevin Slocombe. “But Capita is going in the opposite direction."

But the BBC has countered his statement.

“Capita’s decision to move more back-office operations to India was made in the interest of providing the highest possible standards of service and value for money for licence fee payers," BBC said.

Capita has assured that all the customer details will continue to be held in secure IT systems in the UK. This means unions will not be able to give any justifiable reason to object to the outsourcing.

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First Published: Dec 20, 2006 18:52 IST