HP workers at DWP to carry out industrial action

HP workers working in IT support at the Department for Work and Pensions have voted to carry out industrial action short of a strike in response to plans to send 200 jobs to India.

HP, which provides the core computer systems for pensions and benefit payments to the DWP’s customers, the job vacancies and job searches system, Labour Market Systems and the operational support for a range of applications, plans to move jobs from Newcastle, Lytham and Sheffield to Bangalore in India.

Last week, the government said that it would not send any DWP jobs abroad, but it was not clear if these included those with subcontractor HP.

The IT workers, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, will work to rule and refuse to co-operate with the process of exporting the work, which is due to take place this month.

“Essentially, not helping HP to share information and experience with the Indian workforce,” a spokesperson for the union said.

PCS has around 170 members working for HP at the DWP, and claimed that it was the first time the government has proposed to send live records of UK citizens overseas.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Not only could more than 200 jobs be lost if this plan gets the nod from the government, but the security implications of sending millions of people’s personal data overseas are massive.

"While neither the government nor HP are able to present a convincing financial case for this move, ministers are caught between their ideological drive to cut spending and an ideological belief that the private sector will create jobs in our economy, not cut them."

A DWP spokesperson said: "Any plans by HP to move departmental work offshore would have to be agreed by ministers and this decision hasn't yet been made. Our contract is explicit that suppliers may not transfer or store data overseas without specific agreement from the department."

Meanwhile, HP added:"We have begun consultation on the proposed transfer of some roles to our operations in India effective in 2012, subject to final client approval. This relates to work at a small number of sites in the UK. We are working to redeploy staff affected into other roles within HP and are optimistic that we can avoid compulsory redundancies.

"HP complies with all regulations regarding data and privacy and will only make changes to the way an account is run with the customer's full approval. We do not expect to start knowledge transfer activities until we have final client [DWP] approval."

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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