Australian state lashes at MS outsourcing plans

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) Labor Council has blamed Microsoft for encouraging Australian businesses to outsource software development to India.

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) Labor Council has belatedly lashed out at Microsoft for encouraging Australian businesses to outsource software development to India.

Labour Council spokesperson Mike Gadiel accused Microsoft of betraying Australians. He said that while the software giant expects Australian consumers to be loyal customers, that loyalty isn't being reciprocated.

Gadiel was responding to comments last month by Microsoft Asia-Pacific president, Michael Rawding, after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a report on the benefits of outsourcing software development to India. Rawding told media that Microsoft would help Australian businesses follow through on the report's findings.

"Given the profits that Microsoft makes from Australia, it is disappointing to witness their clear lack of commitment to Australian jobs," said Gadiel.

"It also highlights the irresponsibility of the Federal Government in putting out that report in the first place," he added.

The NSW Labor Council fears that Microsoft, should it choose to honour its offer, will have a devastating effect on the Australian IT labour market.

"With a large company and a market leader like Microsoft making the call, and offering to facilitate companies to go offshore, you'd have to take the possibility of a major impact [on jobs] fairly seriously," said Gadiel.

Microsoft marketing director Alison Dodd said that Australians are not being betrayed, and now claims that the comments made by Rawding in June may have been taken out of context.

"We actually invest heavily in the Australian economy and the IT skills industry and we are in no way betraying the Australian people," she said.

"We have a philosophy here of Australians first and that goes from recruitment to partners that we use -- we have very strong Australian-centric focus."

Dodd said that Microsoft has partnered with the Federal Government to develop IT skills in the Australian community and has invested AU$1.5 million in Australian universities to develop new products. Which begs the question: why encourage Australian businesses to outsource development in India if the company has invested heavily in training the local workforce?

Microsoft now claims Rawding could have been referring to companies that already operate globally and which Microsoft frequently assists when they're seeking IT skills around the world.

Microsoft Australia denied that India had become favoured in recent months. It said that recent charitable works undertaken by the Gates Foundation in India, such as mass immunisation programs, are separate to the goals of the company.

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