Tuesday, February 3, 2009

U.S. tech unions call for law against offshoring

As MNCs cut jobs in big numbers to rein in costs, IT workers and their unions in the U.S. are now up in arms against offshoring work to cheaper locations like India, reports The Economic Times.

Microsoft, which announced first job cuts in its history, and IBM are among those facing a backlash from tech worker unions and policymakers. Washington Alliance of Technology Workers and Alliance IBM are two organizations of IT workers at the Big Blue running a campaign against the proposed 2,800 job cuts announced recently.

Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance, said, "The Alliance is strongly urging IBM not to go forward with a new round of job cuts and to stop the off-shoring of US workers' jobs."

Consulting group Challenger, Gray and Christmas said last month that electronics, computer and telecommunications companies in the U.S. have cut their workforce by around 186, 955 professionals in 2008, up almost 75 percent from 2007. According to the US Department of Labor, the unemployment rate during December last year rose from around 6.8 to 7.2 percent with almost 2 million workers losing their job between September to December.

On the other side, IBM employs over 70,000 professionals in India and has plans to increasingly serve its global customers from the country. "There is a growing concern among employees that IBM will accelerate the off-shoring of our jobs. To offshore U.S. jobs in the middle of an economic crisis and rising unemployment is simply unacceptable," said Tom Midgley, Alliance president in a January statement.

"We will work with our elected representatives to push for legislation that protects U.S. jobs and calls for the full disclosure of IBM's offshoring and outsourcing of American jobs."

At the same time, policymakers in the U.S. are already proposing new regulations to curb offshoring. In his letter to Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer last month, Senator Chuck Grassley asked the company to give priority to American workers. "My point is that during a layoff, companies should not be retaining H-1B or other work visa program employees over qualified American workers," he said in his January 22 letter. "Our immigration policy is not intended to harm the American workforce." Microsoft plans to cut around 5,000 jobs in the U.S.

However, experts such as Partha Iyengar, vice president at Gartner say that unavailability of required IT skills remains a key driver for offshoring.

By siliconindia news bureau
Tuesday,03 February 2009, 09:43 hrs IST


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