Unions push DTI into probing job exports

The
DTI has launched a major investigation into the offshoring of British work
after trade union pressure and the exodus of thousands of UK jobs overseas.

Last
week, secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt hosted a
round-table event for around 50 interested parties, including unions, companies
that have offshored, organisations that have chosen not to offshore, business
groups and academics.

Delegates
at the event are not revealing details of the discussion, but the DTI has
promised to produce a report by early April on outsourcing and the possible
threat that it could pose to the British economy.

However,
despite the investigation, a move towards banning outsourcing altogether seems
highly unlikely.

Speaking
on the world trade panel of the CBI annual conference in November last year,
Hewitt warned unions that the Government cannot use legislation to prevent UK
jobs from going overseas.

"We
must resist protectionism. It is easy to see the short-term benefits because of
UK jobs and competitiveness, but we must take a long-term view," Hewitt
told delegates.

Unions
have announced that they will conduct a separate investigation into the issue.
Many of their arguments are bolstered by research that suggests outsourcing
does not boost company profitability.

Ben
Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel
and Development, said employers should think carefully from a business
perspective about outsourcing their operations overseas.

"Some
firms are already bringing back parts of their offshored business because of
concerns about language and technical expertise," he said.

"If
you focus solely on cost reduction, you will put the employer brand and
customer service at risk."

Anthony
Thompson, head of employee resourcing at the CBI, said: "In today’s global
economy these trends are inevitable. We should not lose sight of the fact that
the numbers are still very low across the economy as a whole. The benefits of
outsourcing outweigh the negatives.

"You
can’t stop this through legislation and to do so would be
counter-productive," he said. "Offshoring is about protecting
competitiveness."

By
Quentin Reade

Comments are closed.