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IBM has warned staff not to use the word "off-shore" when it starts to move white collar jobs from the US to China, India and Brazil this year, the Wall Street Journal reports today.

"Do not be transparent regarding the purpose/intent" of the moves, IBM advises, and "on-shore" and "off-shore" should never be used.

Gartner has estimated that one in ten white collar IT jobs will be moved oversees by the end of this year, and last month the WSJ reported 4,730 US programmers in IBM's Global Services group would be replaced. Today's report is based on internal discussion documents from last Fall, and has little new to add in terms of concrete plans. We do learn, however, that while IBM bills internal developers at $56 an hour, a Chinese programmer with three to fiver years' experience is billed at around $12.50 an hour.

In response, IBM has confirmed it will send 3,000 programmer jobs offshore this year, although it will add 5,000 net in the United States. Its global headcount will be its highest since 1991.

Meanwhile state senators in Washington, home to Microsoft and Boeing, have proposed legislation that would prevent the State from employing offshore contractors. Also on the agenda is a bill that would require call center employees to disclose their location if requested, and prevent employers from using staff earmarked for redundancy to train their offshore replacements. Four other states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey have similar legislation under consideration.

It's election year, and lawmakers who ignore the issue do so at their peril. However two major companies have superficially acknowledged customer concerns. Lehmann Brothers recently switched its IT helpdesk away from its Indian call center, and Dell Computer re-routed US support calls on two product lines back to the United States. However both have large investments in India and remain committed to the operations.

It's hard to think what euphemisms IBM can use instead of "offshore". Seaward? Man overboard? If you can do better, let us know

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