Joined: 14 Apr 2003
|Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:53 pm Post subject: India threatens to turn UK into 'a nation of fat cats'
|Who's got our jobs out, asks the UK
RASHMEE Z AHMED
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2003 09:55:17 PM ]
LONDON: Britain on Tuesday began a major parliamentary inquiry on the massive jobs flight to Indian call centres, but the man heading the investigation insists the controversial "India question" may have an unexpected answer -- more bilateral tie-ups, not less.
The British probe into potentially the country's biggest loss of livelihood since the end of traditional smokestack manufacturing will interrogate BT, one of India's leading call-centre employers.
It comes just 24 hours after the UK's biggest manufacturing union, the 730,000-member Amicus, announced that British consumers believed "India is synonymous with outsourcing". "Consumers in our survey would probably punish outsourcing British companies for desertion," Amicus general secretary Roger Lyons told Times News Network.
Meanwhile, the man inquiring into outsourcing, Martin O'Neill, chairman of the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee, told TNN: "We recognise that what has taken place is one of the by-products of globalisation and to stop this process by interdict and diktat would be counterproductive".
Amicus has warned the threat from India's "sophisticated overseas call centre industry" could leave the UK "as a nation of fat cats and hairdressers with nothing in between".
But O'Neill says there is no need for "simplistic nationalism". His 12-member committee will talk to the Confederation of Indian Industry and "we will be wanting to look at the tremendous development that there has been in Indian software houses which has not necessarily been at the expense of UK employment".
O'Neill's words may appear brave, even foolhardy, against a backdrop of union anger. Just weeks ago, Reuters announced it was re-locating core functions to India and Goldman Sachs and Abbey National plans for major outsourcing operations.
Last October, a survey by Adecco, which styles itself the world's largest call centre recruitment company, said "100,000 jobs dedicated to the UK market (would go to) places like India and South Africa (by 2008)".
O'Neill said he had visited British Airways' Indian call centre seven years ago and remained "very conscious that the people who were doing the work there were a lot better qualified than their UK counterparts would have been".
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