Feeds

Unions to test Siemens' mettle

Civil service decamps to India

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Siemens has become the new face on the dart board of the union movement after trying to outsource more jobs to India.

Nine unions joined forces this week to launch their "Public Services Not Private Profit" campaign, which asserts that when private companies run public services they do it for the benefit of their shareholders, not the public they serve.

The Public and Commercial Services Union kick-started the campaign with a challenge to Siemens' plans to offshore more National Savings & Investments jobs to India. In 1999 Siemens won a £1bn, 10 year business process outsourcing contract, which including the overhaul of IT systems and business processes, and effectively involves running all but the public bank's management. In 2004, Siemens won a £400m, five-year extension.

Danny Williamson, president of the Siemens group at the Public and Commercial Services Union, and PCS boss Mark Serwotka, bent the ear of Ivan Lewis, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, this week over the Siemens plan to outsource jobs it acquired from NS&I to India.

Since taking on a 10 year contract to run the NS&I in 1999, Siemens has cut over half the jobs it acquired to 1,800. It offshored 240 jobs two years ago without making any redundancies. It gave workers jobs elsewhere.

Siemens now proposes another plan to outsource a further 240 jobs, which might involve an as yet undetermined number of redundancies. It will have to be approved by both the government and NS&I before it goes ahead.

The PCS told Lewis the government had set a green light for "offshoring by stealth" by allowing companies like Siemens to offshore jobs.

"The public sector won't have a level playing field in future with private companies because they won't be able to compete with offshore staff. That puts hundreds of thousands of civil service jobs at risk," he said.

Even private companies pitching for public sector outsourcing business will have to calculate their bid pricing on the assumption that they will offshore civil service jobs, he said.

The business will go to the firm that can offer the cheapest price, or the "most efficient" service, as common parlance has it. Offshore jobs cost the outsourcer 25 per cent of what they would pay to have someone working in the UK, he said.

A spokeswoman for Siemens said the costs it had cut from NS&I the extent to which the National Savings is being run more efficiently and the savings could be channelled back into improvements in the bank's service.

The work had been given to Siemens in the first place in order for it to cut costs, she said.

"The government should not endorse the principle of government work being done by cheap labour abroad for no other purpose than the benefit of a multinational corporation," Williamson told The Register.

A report leaked from the Department of Work and Pensions revealed that it was seeking to have its private sector contractors move work overseas to reduce costs.

It is an element also of the transformation agenda that is taking grip across all levels of government. Ian Watmore, transformation programme from the Cabinet Office, made a vague reference to the use of foreign resources at a conference last month.

While telling public sector IT directors how they should do their jobs, he used Lord Coe's shamelessly cynical Olympic bid as a role model.

Coe had wooed the multiculturalists on the Olympic Committee by showing a video with children around the world aspiring to fulfil the Olympic dream.

He was criticised for using "foreigners" in his video, said Watmore, but the ploy worked.

"We have to do that in our own industry," he said. "We have to use the globe. We cannot be insulated from global factors, we have to use them to our advantage."

However, pressed on this subsequently, a Cabinet Office spokesman insisted Watmore meant that public sector IT directors should be merely using ideas from foreign climes, to learn from them, and not employ their people.

Twenty two MPs signed an early day motion (#1940) on Wednesday in support of the Public Services not Private Profit campaign, which called for a "moratorium on privatisation", while everyone tried to find out if it was working for the public sector.®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.