The UK's House of Commons is to launch an inquiry into the loss of call centre and IT jobs from Britain to countries such as India, according to a report by the Independent newspaper.
The paper reports that Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee, said an investigation into the shift of jobs overseas would be part of a wider inquiry into the failure of the IT boom in the 1990s to create as many jobs as was predicted.
By the end of this year HSBC plans to employ 8000 people in India, China and Malaysia. Insurance company Aviva is planning to establish a 1000-person call centre and claims-processing unit in India, and UK telco BT says it will create 2200 new call centre posts in the country. O'Neill told the Independent he planned to quiz BT over the loss of jobs in the UK at a hearing later this year. There have also been reports that Goldman Sachs and Reuters are planning to move divisions over to India as part of their cost cutting measures.
The Independent says the inquiry will be welcomed by UK unions which have protested against offshore outsourcing, claiming that British workers lose their jobs while countries such as India get a reputation as nations of wage slaves. Pay rates are about £5.10 an hour for call centre workers in the UK compared with £1.25 in India, where most employees are graduates.
The newspaper cites a study last month by analysts Key Note which predicted that 100,000 of the existing 600,000 call centre jobs would disappear by the end of 2008 and research by Deloitte & Touche claimed India would be the main beneficiary of two million outsourced administrative and technology-related jobs by 2008.
Recent research by management consulting firm AT Kearney found that US financial services firms are also planning to relocate more than 500,000 jobs offshore - eight per cent of their workforce - over the next five years.