London: As the Gordon Brown government mulls to outsource over 100 jobs at the British Council to India as part of its cost-cutting drive, government employees denounced the move as an “absolute disgrace” and feared that it could be a blueprint for shifting more such services abroad.
The Council, which promotes British culture and language abroad, said that 500 of its 1,300 British workers would have to go in the next 18 months to save £45 million. More than a fifth of these posts are to be filled in India and the body plans to bring some of the Indian recruits over to “shadow” finance staff in Manchester.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which funds the British Council, is exploring similar options.
“The FCO is working actively to deliver cost savings and to ensure that as much of our resource as possible is focused on frontline activity delivering for the UK. We therefore fully understand the British Council’s efforts in that direction,” a spokesperson said.
The government employees unions fear that the move to outsource British Council jobs to India could be a blueprint for more such government jobs shifting abroad.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents civil servants, opposed the Council’s decision saying it was against Brown’s stated principle of “British jobs for British people” and could not be justified during a recession.
“We think it is an absolute disgrace. The British Council is an educational and cultural organisation to support British culture, but a big part of this organisation is now going to be based abroad,“ PCS spokesman Dave Cliff was quoted as saying by The Times.
Though the final decisions about which jobs will go to India will be taken in the next few weeks, but they were expected to include 58 finance posts, up to 40 IT posts and 15 posts for a new centre of excellence.