The trade union representing workers at British Airways has met MPs to air concerns that an IT outsourcing deal between the airline and Indian firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will see UK jobs go and could be a security risk.
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The GMB met MPs in an attempt to stop further IT outsourcing by BA and what it describes as an “abuse” of the Tier 2 visa system.
The airline’s IT outsourcing, which is currently being phased in, is expected to be complete in April. The union says up to 900 IT jobs could go to TCS, some of them filled by staff in India.
The GMB has already written to the Migration Advisory Committee and the Home Office asking them to clamp down on what it describes as abuse of Tier 2 visas by BA and TCS, but has not yet had a response.
The Tier 2 system, which includes the intra-company transfers that allow IT suppliers with UK operations to bring in staff from overseas, is often criticised. Campaigners accuse big businesses, such as Indian IT suppliers, of using Tier 2 to bring in low-cost labour and make it impossible for local IT professionals to compete.
BA’s IT staff are based around the UK, including at BA headquarters in west London, its call centre in Newcastle, and locations in Manchester, Cardiff and Scotland.
Mick Rix, national officer for civil aviation at the GMB, said: “There are many serious matters of concern with the company proposal, not least the devastating economic impact these job losses will have on GMB members, their families and the communities where they live.”
Read more about IT outsourcing to India
- Technological development and changing model for offshore business services and IT could threaten India’s dominance.
- UK government is seeking advice on proposals to reduce the number of workers from outside Europe in the UK, which could change the way Indian IT suppliers operate in the UK.
- After a year of legal wranglings, a UK tribunal has ruled that Indian IT service provider TCS did not discriminate against a UK man seeking employment with it.
Rix said there are also security concerns around operations, UK national security and with flights intended for the US. BA’s IT staff produce reports for the UK Home Office and the US federal authorities on required national security matters.
The GMB says MPs and the government should be concerned that UK security interests are being handed over to a foreign national company.
“I find it incredible and of serious concern that, in these times of very heightened security measures due to the threat by terrorists to civil aviation flights, that the transfer of important national security reporting work, currently operated by BA IT staff, is to be offshored to TCS in India so that BA and the International Airlines Group can save a couple of bucks,” said Rix.
In a statement BA said: "IT services are now provided globally by a range of suppliers and this is very common practice across all industries and the UK Government.
A contract has been signed with TCS to be the supplier of some IT activities in British Airways, and BA has been in consultation with those IT staff affected, about 200."
It added that it "would never compromise the integrity and security" of its IT services.
"We around 35,000 people in the UK providing high skilled and well paid jobs and hire 1000 people a year and has a strong apprenticeship programme," added BA.