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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 00:27 GMT 01:27 UK
Union warns of India jobs 'decimation'
Indian IT worker
Indian firms say they help European industry
The UK Government has been urged to tackle an alleged social and industrial "earthquake" caused by the export of IT jobs to India.

White collar science and engineering union Amicus wants ministers to set up an independent commission to investigate the issue.

It warns Britain will turn into a nation of "fat cats and hairdressers" unless action is taken.

The unions' words are unlikely to be well received in India, which is already fighting anti-outsourcing proposals from several US states.

Job losses

Amicus, which opened its annual conference in Blackpool on Saturday, predicted that 200,000 UK jobs were likely to be lost unless something is done about the crisis in IT and finance.

Whole communities are being asked to face the nightmare of the 1980s once again
Roger Lyons, Amicus
It said the sector was facing the biggest industrial collapse since manufacturing was "decimated" in the 1980s.

Service sector industries, including call centres, replaced manufacturing in many regions with high unemployment levels, but these jobs were now being lost as well, the union added.

Firms including telephone giant BT have opened new call centres in India, where costs are a fraction of those in the UK.


Roger Lyons, joint general secretary of Amicus, admitted outsourcing was an inevitable consequence of improving technology.

But he said: "Our job now is to identify ways in which we manage that change so that our communities don't face the same fate as they did in the 1980s.

"Whole communities are being asked to face the nightmare of the 1980s once again.

"It is imperative now that the Government acts on the lessons learnt from then and takes steps to manage this next industrial and social earthquake.

"We will take whatever action is necessary to make sure that employers and governments deal with this matter urgently and in partnership with communities that rely on them."

Anti-outsourcing legislation is being mooted in several US states.

But the moves have provoked an angry response in India.


Earlier this month, India's Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley said he would be lobbying US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on the issue.

He said the plans amounted to restraint of trade - and were particularly unfortunate given the developed world's attempts to open up its markets to international competition.

The UK only took IT off its list of companies suffering staff shortages ten months ago, removing the prospect of Visas for many foreign workers.

But companies are still allowed to bring staff in from abroad if they work for the firm, a loophole which continues to be exploited by some UK firms.

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