Foreign workers taking UK jobs. A good headline but is it anything new?

Are stories about foreign workers in the UK headline getters or cause for concern?

I was interested to see a story on the Times website about the Intra Company Transfer (ICT) system which enables overseas firms to bring staff to the UK.

It is good to see the nationals highlighting a loophole in the system which is being used, mainly by Indian outsourcing service providers, to bring low cost workers to the UK.

The story was very informative but did not say anything new. But any headline as controversial as “Arrival of 30,000 migrant IT workers ‘deprives Britons of jobs'” is worth a read.

ICTs were originally designed to allow large US comapanies to bring very senior staff to the UK. But now thousands come into the UK to carry out low level jobs at low cost.

Because many of these Indian service providers are large coporates themselves they can afford UK offices and they use this to transfer staff and bypass the ICT system.

Naughty you may think. But their customers including the big banks don’t mind.

Whenever I interview senior executives at the Indian firms I alkways ask them whether they think it is fair that UK workers lose their jobs because they bare undercut on cost. The answer is usually the same. Uncomfortable silence followed by “we abide by the UK immigration rules.”

The last six months of last year was a big period for the ICT system with a review carried out and reforms promised. I covered the subject in some depth last year.

For more information here are some of the stories I wrote last year all with eye catching headlines.

December 03 – Indian companies are biggest importerst of IT workers

September 07 – Government stops businesses importing Labour to cut costs

August 24 – New rules on immigration don’t go far enough

August 20 – Government closes migrant worker loophole

August 19 – UK IT workers train overseas replacements

August 05 – Migration Committee reveals ICT investigation results

August 03 – Big business abusing migrant worker law

June 03 – Offshore suppliers ‘take the mickey’ out of UK law

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Headline getter or cause for concern? Both!

This should be a headline getter because, in a recession or even in good economic times, the UK government should be encouraging schemes that create British jobs. Instead, the government is doing the opposite by encouraging Indian IT workers into the UK with its ill-thought ICT regulations. Government incompetence is nothing new, but it usually merits a headline or two.

It is a cause for concern for myself and 120 others, made redundant by a large UK insurance company last summer. Having spent some time training Indian replacements, many of us are still without work while some have taken up new careers outside of the industry.

The Times report quotes Phil Woolas, the immigration minister (remember the Joanna Lumley/Gurkas fiasco? That’s him.) as defending the ICT regulations. He thinks that they are ‘good for British business’!

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