IT workers protested plans by British Airways to offshore approximately 900 IT jobs to India. The 45-minute protest, which was joined by Labour Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell, took place outside BA headquarters at Waterside, Heathrow.
The protest was organised by the GMB trade union, but was labelled as a public meeting. However, reports claimed that some BA employees walked out of their office to participate in the event.
BA Heathrow is just one of the sites that have been affected by the plans to outsource and offshore work to India. It faces approximately 700 redundancies while BA Newcastle faces and estimated 100 redundancies.
Besides protesting the outsourcing of IT jobs to the Indian IT contractor, Tata Consultancy Services, GMB has also accused BA of infringing visa rules. GMB claims the airline has been rolling Tier 2 visas, which are meant for internal employee movement within an organisation.
A Home Office report stated its concern over UK employers using Tier 2 visas to displace and undercut UK IT workers.
GMB’s Mick Rix stated: “BA’s reward for their colleagues’ loyalty is redundancy and to replace them with another company’s cheap labour brought in from abroad on dubious visas.”
However, BA defended its plans to offshore IT jobs, claiming it is a common practice to use global IT services. It also disputed the number of jobs that would be affected, saying that it would be about 200.
“A contract has been signed with TCS to be the supplier of some IT activities in British Airways, and British Airways has been in consultation with those IT staff affected,” said a BA spokesperson.
When asked what BA had to say to an IT contractor who may be looking at working for the airline, the spokesperson said that the airline provided well-paid opportunities besides having an apprenticeship scheme that took in 1,000 people annually.