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Unions finally acknowledge outsourcing inevitable

After months of protests, they have offered to work with offshoring firms.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2003 21:34 IST

After months of protests and anger against major companies transferring jobs to India, unions have admitted that outsourcing is inevitable and have offered to work with UK companies that opt to send work offshore.

Speaking at an Outsourcing to India conference in London, Leslie Manasseh, deputy general secretary of union Connect and TUC general council member, warned that the choice for employees and unions is no longer between fatalism and opposition."Protection has a very powerful resonance within trade unions. This is hardly surprising. It's trade union members who are losing jobs," he said."Forecasts of 100,000 IT jobs going to India alone over the next five years are not good news for the people who currently occupy those jobs."

However, Manasseh insisted that the time had come for unions to look at the issue from a global, rather than local, perspective."We are trying to shift the debate to a more positive and principled ground. It's about promoting a more equitable sharing of world trade and a more balanced relationship between the developed and the developing world."

Manasseh said assurances from representatives of the India High Commission about working conditions in Indian call centres had helped to further the offshore cause with his union."The way the whole issue is handled by employers from now on will determine how the debate within trade unions develops," he said.

Kiran Karnik, president of Nasscom, welcomed the union's stance. "Unions have to be concerned about the jobs of their members, but it has to be in a larger perspective," he said.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST