Co-op IT workers vote on strike action
Offshoring comes home
Updated Members of union Unite at the Co-op are voting on possible strike action today to prevent compulsory redundancies when work is moved out to India.
French firm Steria took over the Co-op's financial services IT department in 2007. The 176 staff were told in the summer that work would be moved to India and the company was looking for 90 voluntary redundancies. Not enough people asked to leave, so Steria is now looking to lay off 30 people.
Steria expects to save the Co-op money by shifting work to India - eventually 70 per cent of work will be done there.
Unite officer Richard Lynch said: "We are appalled that work is being transferred to India forcing workers out of their jobs at this time of economic downturn and rising unemployment, just to maximise profits for Co-op and Steria."
Lynch said talks with Steria were ongoing but no breakthrough had been made.
Staff have until 10 November to vote on strike action.
Update: Steria sent us the following statement:
"A very small number of UK posts have been identified as at risk of redundancy. This represents just 0.6% of our 5,000 UK workforce.
"Steria is an employer of choice for many people who chose a career in our industry.
"Steria’s management teams are making strenuous efforts to make sure that the risks of compulsory redundancies are reduced and that alternative positions are identified for those at risk.
"We are disappointed that in this instance Unite have felt it necessary to ballot members on the Co-operative Financial Services site. Steria is in close talks with Unite and redundancies are identified not in terms of potential profit but in the real business context of making this business unit more competitive and streamlined, thereby safeguarding other crucial UK based roles."®
Good luck with the ballot
I hope you get a good YES vote in the ballot, and if you have to come out I hope IT staff everywhere will do collections for you. It would be great to send a message to employers that it isn't acceptable to dump us on the scrap-heap so they can cut costs - whether by moving the jobs within the UK or internationally.
Definitition of redundancy
Surely the jobs have to have ceased to exist. If having been moved offshore is ceasing to exist the employment legislation is madder than I thought.
I don't usually post as anonymous but this time there are good reasons.
what about the data protection act?
Co-op Financial Services - so that will be sensitive personal data - in which case they need to ask their customers if it is OK to export their sensitive personal data, even if that is only occasional access by a code cutter or sys admin outside the EU for support services. They haven't asked me (yet - and my answer will be "no thanks").
Surely it's time for an independant National Union of Information Technologists?
As long as we continue to be represented in a half-hearted manner by *unions* who fail to understand us, who are 'partners' with corporations who 'recognise' them (see: Lapdogs), and who simply are not set up to meet our industrial needs then we are the easiest victim for the employers.
IT has always been viewed as a 'cost centre', not a profit centre, and we are often called upon only when something is 'broken' leading to uneducated middle and upper management having nothing but negativity and contempt for the work we do.Clearly then, when its time to make cuts, you can see why we're often the first to go, either in terms of support, equipment or personnel.
It's become policy across many corporations to only engage in negotiations with 'recognised business partners in the union sector' - this equates to a level of control and regulation that is entirely the antithesis of the base concept of unionisation, which is that if a large number of people decide to take industrial action over relevant issues then we are legally allowed to do so - we do NOT require the 'permission' of our employers and their national union partners!
So, wake up employers, outsourcers and unions - remember the teamsters and coal-miners - it can happen again and you would not like the amount of power the NUIT could wield at a national level.
Please, someone with some political understanding get this ball rolling - you'd have no shortage of support!
AC this time around, because I need to protect my identity until the NUIT can represent me!
IT in the UK vs. Europe
I've just had my contract extended for another 9 months (I work for a bank.) No job difficulties, here. Actually, my employer is complaining that they can't get enough qualified people like me.
Can't think why (actually, I can.) I think the elephant in the room is a sum of these causes:
a) The dumbing-down of Computer Science study in schools (many schools dropped it entirely) and universities (some made the mistake of teaching Java in place of everything else.) Many CS students graduate from university without even as much ability to write a driver in C or assembly language.
b) The outsourcing of lower-end jobs (one of the first things to go was software engineering, since it could be done anywhere. Then configuration management, and even UNIX admin / app support has gone overseas, too. I know, because I've worked in all these fields.
c) The complete lack of any companies with any willingness to train their staff. Yes, believe it or not, they actually think that training to have a career in IT is free. Pay in the UK often reflects this opinion, too ... although things are better in Europe (however, there are always two or three employers who like to take the proverbial.)
There are still good-quality jobs to be found in Europe (I will agree with Anonymous Coward that IT jobs in the UK are generally pretty abysmal.) However, you'd better be prepared to learn another language if you want to work here - many employers are wising-up to cheap (yet crap) labour taking over from the local, talented workers. Discriminating on race or nationality is illegal, so they simply discriminate on your ability to speak the local lingo. Can't speak Dutch / German / French? Better apply elsewhere, then.