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British Council faces legal action for offshoring

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The British Council is facing legal action by unions, who are angry at its failure to consult with staff before announcing an offshoring project.

The Public and Commercial Services Union is threatening to start a protective award case - a form of employment tribunal - to stop jobs moving to India on the basis that staff and unions were not consulted.

A spokesman for the PCSU said it would be speaking to counsel about bringing a case against the Council. The plan is to move about 100 jobs offshore - the British Council in India will take on extra IT and finance staff in place of British workers.

The British Council said it was not immune to budget pressure, which was exacerbated by last year's fall in the value of sterling. The group receives £209m from the government and generates £436m from English teaching, exams and related businesses.

In reaction to this it will offer early retirement and voluntary redundancy to permanent staff to around a third of its UK staff. Half these jobs are currently filled by temporary workers or are vacant. The organisation will also consolidate its five finance centres into two: one the UK and one probably in India.

Finance roles in the UK will be cut by half to around forty jobs. Centres in Mexico, Poland and China will go, with an extra 60 jobs being created in India, but there will be a net reduction of 40 overseas roles overall.

IT work currently run from centres in India, Poland, Dubai and Singapore will also be consolidated into fewer sites. This will mean a fall in UK IT jobs from 185 to about 100, although worldwide the number of jobs will remain about the same.

The British Council will keep its five centres in the UK in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. It currently employs around 6,100 overseas staff.

The British Council insists it is in the process of consulting with both staff and the PCS union about this process.

Full BC statement is here. ®

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