From the TUC

Keep IT in BA: We need action against undercutting in British Airways

25 Apr 2016, By Guest

Tata’s decision to close its steel plants in the UK has brought it to the centre of public attention. What may be less known is that Tata, the Indian conglomerate, also owns the company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) which British Airways decided to outsource its IT services to last October.

GMB has been campaigning against this decision which will mean job losses for 900 workers (who are mostly members of GMB) and TCS’s abuse of the UK’s visa rules to bring in workers at a cheaper rate from India to fill in jobs that cannot be moved to India.

30 workers have already been brought in from India to shadow existing British Airways staff working in their IT department. GMB has reason to believe they are being employed on just £10,000 a year with a £700 tax free allowance.   This is a clear breach of government regulations as workers brought into the country from the outside the EU are required to be paid at least £24,000.  As a standard salary in these IT roles starts at around £30,000, this is a clear case of undercutting.

Not only does TCS seem to be breaching migration rules on wages but they also do not seem to have properly conducted what is called a ‘resident labour market test’ that is required of all employers before bringing workers into the country.

This requires employers to advertise a vacancy domestically for 28 days before considering recruiting from outside the EU.  We know there is no skills shortage of local workers with the required IT skills. Various governments have invested billions in the UK education system on IT and encouraged Apprenticeship and Graduate programs.

The GMB is calling the government to stop TCS from bypassing skilled workers in the local economy so that this state investment in skills can be contributed to the economy and Indian workers are not exploited.

So far government has so far failed to act, despite the GMB writing to the Home Secretary and UK Border and Immigration service and MPs supportive of GMB’s campaign raising questions in parliament.

It was welcome that the Migration Advisory Committee recommended in its recent report that incidents of undercutting in the IT sector should be investigated, we are calling for the government to do this as a matter of urgency.

Concerns are also being raised that outsourcing to TCS may have a serious impact on data security. India still has no Data Protection Laws. In the last few years, every time a law goes to Congress, it is voted down. TCS has already been fined US $940m for unauthorised use of data in the form of medical records.  There is increasing reports of unauthorised misuse of data from India, which have been subject of challenges by Channel 4 TV investigations.

We must campaign for British Airways to bring staff back in house so that a secure IT service can be delivered by workers paid a fair rate for the job. Please join us and back the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.