CSC to retrain up to 10,000 workers after offshoring

Trade union pushes for better staff treatment

Trade union pushes for better staff treatment

US IT firm Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has promised private sector union Amicus it will retrain up to 10,000 UK staff when it moves work offshore.

The agreement comes as part of a deal in which the two organisations will use cost savings generated by the move to develop staff careers.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has cheered the decision. In a press statement, he said: "Globalisation is here to stay - Amicus is showing the way ahead, working in partnership with CSC to ensure that workers are fully consulted about offshoring before it happens."

The move could see techies in the company retrained in management roles. Amicus has said the deal is significant because no other union has reached such a sizeable deal with a US firm.

Rory Murphy, director of human resources sourcing for outsourcing specialist Morgan Chambers, said: "The UK's largest private sector union has done a deal with one of America's large companies - how interesting is that? Companies are realising they have to treat people properly.

"The trade unions have been banging on that it's important to invest in the UK workforce. I don't think outsourcing is the problem - it's the way that it's done. Companies are beginning to realise that staff are their best asset. This is about moving people up the food chain."

Both organisations hinted that outsourcing is an inevitable process.

A statement from CSC said: "CSC is continually investing to ensure that the skills of our staff keep pace with the change in demand in our global workplace. This allows us to up-skill staff and to give them career development. Over the past three years CSC has developed a strategic global World Sourcing programme, designed to optimise technical expertise to achieve savings."

Peter Skyte, Amicus' national officer, said: "Globalisation may be an economic reality but employers must continue to invest in people, skills and technology rather than engage in a race to the bottom."

The union said companies must use cost savings to develop workforces.

But not everyone believes the move will become a trend for other companies to follow. Clive Davies, an outsourcing lawyer and partner of Olswang, said: "It is commendable and very good but it's like trying to stand on the beach to keep the tide back. I don't see how you will keep that [from happening].

"I'm not sure how much effect it will have. I also think it's not a one-off. Not everyone will take the same approach. But it's a sensible thing to do and does raise awareness to management."