The government is drawing up controversial plans to switch work overseas, according to a leaked internal document.
Union leaders said the move by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) threatened job losses and showed “utter contempt” for the workforce.
The document, headlined Offshoring Process, was acquired by the Public and Commercial Services union ahead of a two-day strike later this week by thousands of DWP workers in protest at job cuts.
It read: “In line with the continuing need for government departments to reduce costs, proposals are being made by service providers to undertake work for or on behalf of the department overseas.
“This could involve the transfer of part or even all of the functions of a DWP area of business that would have previously been located in the UK, to a centre located outside of the UK. This is referred to as offshoring.”
If the plans goes ahead, it will be the first time a major government department has looked overseas to run public services, the union said.
General secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “This plan has never been discussed with the workers or unions, which is appalling. It shows that plans to offshore work are well advanced and proves there are no no-go areas for the government in trying to achieve its efficiency targets, reduce costs and cut jobs.”
The DWP said: “We have no plans to move any of our contact centres or any of our other services off-shore. It is possible that some of the suppliers for our support services such as IT may use off-shore sub-contractors. That is entirely a matter for them.”