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Guardian faces union backlash as IT outsourcing seems likely

Angelica Mari

Guardian News & Media (GNM) is in talks around the outsourcing of several IT roles regarded as "not enhancing the firm's core purpose" and "better done by specialist companies".

The media group is facing strong criticism from workers union Unite, which labelled the intentions to outsource as a "strategic mistake it will come to regret" in an article published by the Guardian.

"Technology is absolutely core to the work that GNM does as both a newspaper and online publisher," Unite's John Stuttle said in the article.

Stuttle added that there is a "strong likelihood" that most staff facing the cull will take up GNM's offer of enhanced redundancy rather than transferring to the outsourcing supplier, which is a common practice in other companies, carried out under Tupe agreements.

"If these staff go they will take with them not just a real commitment to GNM and its values but also years of experience and detailed knowledge of highly bespoke and specialised systems, not to mention relationships with commercial and editorial staff they have collaborated with over many years," said Stuttle.

Stuttle implied GNM could outsource IT services to an Indian supplier and added that management are "completely mistaken" if they believe the new partner would be able to meet the same quality of service "no matter how tempting their sales pitch sounds".

"We believe this move to outsource is part of a tendency to increasing use of short-term and fixed-term contracts and presages further moves to outsource elsewhere in the company," Stuttle said.

GNM confirmed the discussions around IT outsourcing are taking place, but when asked about exactly how many employees and functions of IT would be affected, as well as which Indian suppliers are pitching for the contract and the projected savings, a spokeswoman at the group said: 
 
“Like all media organisations GNM has been reviewing many of its operational structures and practices in light of both economic pressures and structural changes within our industry. As part of this we have been reviewing options for elements of our technology function, to ensure it is in the right shape to support our current and future needs as a fast-changing media business.
 
“As discussions with staff, unions and potential external partners are ongoing, and no final decisions have been taken, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”


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