GMB union gets good response from MPs over British Airways IT outsourcing concerns

MPs will try to set up a meeting with BA senior management to discuss union’s concerns over outsourcing of IT jobs to Indian supplier TCS

The GMB union says it was “pleasantly surprised” by the number of MPs who turned up to a meeting to discuss its concerns over British Airways’ plan to outsource more IT work to India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

An outsourcing contract has been agreed between BA and TCS, with the supplier taking on some of the airline’s IT activities. BA said it had been in consultation with about 200 affected IT staff, but the GMB claimed 900 jobs could be taken over by TCS.

The GMB initially wrote to the Migration Advisory Service and the Cabinet Office about its concerns that the deal is “abusing” the tier two work visa system. This is the process through which overseas suppliers bring staff in to work on contracts in the UK, as long as they meet certain criteria, such as if there are no alternative local workers.

The union said Indian staff are replacing UK staff, and it also has worries about security if IT work is performed by overseas companies.

It arranged a meeting with MPs, which took place yesterday (14 January). Mick Rix, the union’s national officer for civil aviation, told Computer Weekly that more MPs attended than had been expected.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the number of MPs who turned up,” he said.

Rix said the MPs will write to BA to try to arrange a meeting with senior management to discuss the union’s concerns. “They will also be asking questions of the Home Office,” he added.

Read more about IT outsourcing to India

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  • 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.

BA confirmed that a contract has been signed with TCS to supply some IT activities.

The airline defended its recruitment policy. “We have around 35,000 people in the UK, providing highly skilled and well-paid jobs, hire 1,000 people a year and have a strong apprenticeship programme,” said BA. It added that it “would never compromise the integrity and security” of its IT services.

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