Wednesday, October 8, 2008

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IT firms send 11,000 Indians to UK every year

Forward by Sravanthi

London: Over 11, 000 foreign workers are being brought into Britain by Indian IT companies every year, prompting a trade union to question if the work permit system is being “abused” in the process

The Sunday Telegraph releases Home Office figures, which it says it obtained after a two-year battle under the Freedom of Information Act, showing that just six specialist Indian IT companies had recruited 11,644 immigrants to work for them in the UK in 2006, the most recent figure available.

The companies are Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Mahindra-BT, Mastek, Infosys Technologies and Satyam Computer Services.

Over a seven-year period these companies were granted work permits to bring 47,000 foreign nationals into the UK. Their annual total has climbed steadily every year since 2000 and has doubled since 2003.

The majority are thought to have been Indian nationals. The Home Office could not say how many have settled in the UK and how many have returned to their homeland.

Tata Consusltancy Services is the largest single sponsor of foreign workers. It secured permits for around 4,000 foreign workers in 2006 compared with less than 1,600 in 2000.

Much of the work of the six companies involves outsourcing, where British companies or public-sector organisations bring in a separate company to operate their computer system.

In some cases, companies have brought staff from India to Britain to learn about operations such as call-centres, before shutting down the British businesses and moving the staff back to India to replicate the operation there.

A British trade union, Unite, is questioning these figures. It says while it is possible that only foreign workers have the skills required for the specific jobs in question, the granting of work permits “should not be at the cost of resident workers”.

Unite is worried that the Indian companies may be “undercutting” British pay rates in the UK by securing work permits to foreign workers and paying them much less than what their British counterparts would earn in the same rank.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, British IT workers earned an average of £35,000 a year in 2006 while two-thirds of foreign-born employees in the same sector were paid under £30,000 a year. The figures include both employees on short-term and long-term work permits.

Peter Skyte, national officer of Unite, wrote in a report titled “The impact of the work permit scheme on IT professionals in the UK”: “The question needs to be asked whether the skills represented in these figures are not available in the UK, which would be a justifiable use of the work permit system, or whether these companies are bringing in non-resident work permit holders at below going pay rates in the UK, which would not.”


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