French IT services firm Steria is facing the threat of strike action by workers in Northern England over the offshoring of outsourced Co-operative Bank jobs.
Unite the union is to ballot 176 Steria staff in Manchester and Skelmersdale, in a bid to prevent compulsory redundancies and the transfer of their work to India.
The workers, most of whom were outsourced from the Co-op's financial services arm to Steria in 2007, were told in the summer that a third of their IT support work for the Co-op was being offshored, with a loss of 90 jobs.
As too few workers volunteered for redundancy, Steria is now proposing to make over 30 workers from Arndale House in central Manchester compulsorily redundant.
Arrangements agreed last year involved Steria delivering cheaper IT services to the Co-op by getting work done in India, says the union. These arrangements are expected to continue after the current round of cutbacks and, with the Co-op looking for accelerated offshoring by Steria, it is expected that some 70% of the work will eventually be done in India.
Unite officer, Richard Lynch says: "We are appalled that work is being transferred to India forcing workers out of their jobs at this time of economic downturn and rising unemployment, just to maximise profits for Co-op and Steria."
Steria issued a written response: "We are disappointed that in this instance Unite have felt it necessary to ballot members on the Co-operative Financial Services site. Steria is in close talks with Unite and redundancies are identified not in terms of potential profit but in the real business context of making this business unit more competitive and streamlined, thereby safeguarding other crucial UK based roles."
The Unite ballot, which asks members to vote on a strike and other forms of industrial action, will conclude on 10 November 2008.