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Co-op tech workers vote to strike over offshoring

12 November 2008  |  4934 views  |  0 STOP

Outsourced Co-operative Bank staff working at French IT services firm Steria in the UK have voted to go on strike over the offshoring of their jobs to India.

Finance sector union Unite balloted 176 Steria staff in Manchester and Skelmersdale on the action in a bid to prevent the compulsory redundancy of 31 people.

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.

Of the 176 staff, 93 participated in the ballot, with 71% voting for strike action and 89% voting for industrial action short of a strike.

The Union says it will now meet Steria next week in a "last-ditch" attempt to save the positions and seek assurances on future job security. If the talks fail it plans strike action "at an early date".

Richard Lynch, negotiating officer, IT Sector, Unite, says: "The vote for industrial action is a clear reflection of our members' anger that their jobs are being offshored to India at a time of increasing economic uncertainty in the UK.

"We believe that this export of jobs is unacceptable in the current climate and we urge Steria to halt the compulsory redundancies and to reconsider its plans to offshore 70% of the work on this account."

In response, John Torrie, CEO, Steria UK, has asked staff and the union to "take a considered approach" to strikes action and the need for redundancies.

"The low turn out for the ballot combined with the fact that just 65 people out of a membership in excess of 175 voted to support action, highlights that the appetite for industrial action goes against the wishes of the vast majority of members," adds Torrie.

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