Unions warn firms over mad rush to ‘offshore’ UK jobs

UK businesses must consider the true business case for moving jobs abroad,
and not rush "in a lemming-like fashion" into offshoring.

Speaking at the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) annual conference last week,
Roger Lyons, joint general-secretary of Amicus and TUC president, said there
was no excuse for fad-driven changes that "disrupt employment and

He pinpointed an increase in consultants advising businesses to move
functions abroad as the chief culprits. "These are people who may have
made fortunes out of mergers and acquisitions in previous years," he said.
"And now they want their new Porsche paid for by the fashion for

Lyons cited a recent CBI survey which showed that 43 per cent of its members
felt under pressure to offshore, regardless of the business case or lack of

"We [the unions] have no objection in principle to the redistribution
of work around the world," Lyons said. "But we have seen a move by
many employers to making these types of decisions without carefully examining
the advantages and the disadvantages."

His views were echoed by Barry Clark, partner and head of employment law at
Russell Jones & Walker, who said offshoring was not a panacea for business
and, if done for the wrong reasons, can be disastrous.

"Offshoring has now gone beyond call centres and the general consensus
from the Government seems to be short-term pain for long-term gain," he

Malcolm McKinnon, head of the services and investment policy unit at the
DTI, said the Government had an open mind about the whole issue and will be
publishing a White Paper in July.

"We do recognise the impact of offshoring decisions, and no-one cheers
when people lose their jobs," he said. McKinnon added that the Government
was trying to maintain a balance by encouraging inward investment to the UK by
overseas companies.

By Mike Berry

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