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back to article Hundreds of UK CSC staff face chop, told to train Indian replacements

Computer Science Corporation (CSC) workers heading for the chopping block in Britain have been asked to train their replacements in India and the Czech Republic. Some 750 staff in the UK have been threatened with redundancy under the IT giant's global workforce shakeup, and roughly 200 roles will be moved offshore. CSC - …

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Redundancy?

How can they be redundant, if they're having to train replacements? The person doesn't become redundant, the role does. If the role's being transferred overseas, this isn't redundancy.

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Re: Redundancy?

The change of location counts as redundancy for the role.

IIRC, if a company moved its office more than 15 miles from the original office location they have to offer redundancy to any staff member who doesn't want to move because the role in the original office is now redundant. Thats a good thing, because it forces the company to pay proper compensation instead of just firing people who wouldn't move and avoiding all compensation for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Redundancy?

they become redundant as in "UK wage-level-redundant", and replacement will be cheeeeaaap (see those bonuses rolling for the "successful roll-out of cost optimisatin".

Of course, the good workers in Czech Republic, so delighted to be offered a job now, will themselves become "Czech-wage-level-redundant", in due course (but always sooner, than they would think), once their wage level becomes "unsustainable in the current, challenging, economic situation"

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Devil

Re: Redundancy?

Czech IT wage level is not that far off from the UK and in some IT sectors is even higher than in the UK. In fact, the Germans have moved into Czech republic to the rescue their early experiments in outsourcing to warmer climate driving up demand/supply situation to a level UK IT bods can only envy. That move has resulted in starting salaries for some positions (f.e. Unix sysadmin, etc) that are in fact higher than their UK equivalents.

So I would not be so sure about "Czech-wage-level-redundant" and the "rightful indignation" manifested by unions that it is going somewhere cheaper. That may indeed be the case. Or maybe not. I would not jump to a conclusion without seeing actual pay brackets and positions.

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Re: Redundancy?

Well said.

This isn't true redundancy, even for geographical reasons. The fact it is cheaper abroad does not mean the need for the job in a certain location has moved. It's one thing to need to move a factory or office, another just to move it to save money.

Not to mention the idiocy of moving money abroad. Taking money out of the economy you depend on for your income is monumentally retarded. Short term gain, long term trauma.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's incredibly hard to make someone compulsory redundant.

No, it isn't. For example, how do you think universities get rid of postdocs whose external funding has expired?

Any research university will have many hundreds of postdocs; if you assume the average contract length is two years, and the likelihood of new funding is 50%, then an institution with 400 postdocs will be discarding 100 staff a year- and some large departments may have over 100 in themselves). If you assume that single-contract postdocs dont count as redundancies, that leaves 50 a year, and if you assume that 50% cant wait to leave, that's still 25/year. Making contract research staff redundant is a standard industrial process for higher education.

PS: No, I didn't want to leave, and, no, it wasn't hard for them to get rid of me. *shrug*

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Redundancy?

"Thats a good thing, because it forces the company to pay proper compensation instead of just firing people who wouldn't move and avoiding all compensation for it."

What? A good thing? For tax paying wage slaves? Well that'll have to go.

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Re: Redundancy?

No it isn't.

https://www.gov.uk/staff-redundant/overview

It's straight forward. Particularly if you are moving work to another location.

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Mushroom

Training your replacement.

Replacement : "So how do you configure the database backup script?"

Original Employee : "Well first you DELETE FROM USERS WHERE ROLE LIKE '%MANAGER%'; ...."

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Big Brother

Re: Training your replacement.

Careful... That SQL is awfully close to something a terrurist could use as a cyber-wipon*

Not a misspell... just dodging N5A keyword filters. ;-)

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Happy

Re: Training your replacement.

Ah, but then you used NSA, which is also a keyword likely to be on their filters...

Adding in the use of both NSA and filters, and the deliberate obfuscation of a priority word, I wouldn't be surprised if the black helicopters aren't circling your house right now!

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Holmes

Re: Training your replacement.

Maybe Computer Science Corporation could ask Royal Bank of Scotland for advice...

Replacement : "So how do you configure the job scheduler backup script?"

What could possibily go wrong.

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Holmes

Re: Training your replacement.

It's N 5 A on my screen.

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Facepalm

Re: Training your replacement.

NSA doesn't use just keywords. And they don't count on exact spelling either. It's a immensely more sophisticated.

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Isn't this illegal?

I reckon this company needs to be more publicly denounced and shamed - hopefully they'll fall flat and die.

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Meh

Re: Isn't this illegal?

I don't know if it is illegal. A more interesting question is: should it be?

Firing a person and then hiring someone else who is willing to do the same job for less is just rational. Making that illegal is the opposite of freedom of association; makes it riskier to hire anyone; and is using the violence of law to correct voluntary interactions (agreeing to be hired on the basis that you may one day be fired if someone undercuts you) that you don't like (but maybe the people entering the voluntary interactions do like).

Someone said this company should be shamed. For acting rationally?

Instead of all the moralising (even business minister Matthew Hancock is at it), perhaps it would be better to reduce the cost of hiring people in the UK. Think employment law, regulations, tax and even unions.

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Windows

Re: Isn't this illegal?

"perhaps it would be better to reduce the cost of hiring people in the UK."

@Rob: that would have to be a big reduction to match current Indian wage rates, and still a very significant reduction to match Czech Republic wage rates.

I have no idea where we are going to get jobs that pay reasonable rates for the next few generations either, but cutting wages or employment protection does not strike me as a good road to go down.

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

"Instead of all the moralising (even business minister Matthew Hancock is at it), perhaps it would be better to reduce the cost of hiring people in the UK. Think employment law, regulations, tax and even unions"

After you with the pay cut then, Rob .....

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@Rob Fisher

You sound like you have a job in management. Maybe at CSC.

Let me ask you one question : if you needed a heart transplant, what would you rather hear ;

"Don't worry sir, we have the most experienced surgeon in the country waiting for you, he's done six thousand operations just like yours, you'll be fine. Of course, your insurance is going to pay a hefty sum, but good health is priceless, is it not ?"

or

"Don't worry about your insurance premiums sir, we have a new surgeon fresh in from Tzeckoslowhateveria. He used to be a programmer but he passed an online certification and now he's itching to get some experience for only £1/hour. Of course, we'll need you to sign this waiver..."

Well CSC is going for option #2, do you know why ? Because the people who make the decision will be up & out as soon as they've cashed their bonus checks and won't have to deal with the fallout.

Now you tell me just how that is rational.

Or rather, don't bother. You are part of those who believe that money is the only criteria, so obviously you cannot understand just how wrong you are. Until the day comes when YOU are made redundant, of course. That day it'll be a whole other story, I'm sure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal? @ Rob Fisher

You can only fire someone (or more accurately terminate their contract), if they did something wrong. i.e. broke their terms of employment. And only then after following an appropriate disciplinary process, unless it's something major, like hitting a customer or stealing from the company etc.

If you no longer need someone, as their role isn't required anymore. Then you don't fire them, you make them redundant, or ask them to take voluntary redundancy.

You can't fire someone just because you don't want them to work for you any more, irrespective of the reason. That would be classed as unfair dismissal, as they hadn't done anything wrong, as you need a valid contractual reason to be able to fire someone. It would leave you and your company open to court action for firing someone without a valid reason (as in valid for the individual themselves, not valid for the company). If the person was doing a good job, the company wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on.

To fire someone because you found someone else, who would do the job cheaper, IS ILLEGAL, (as well as immoral).

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

@Rob

True, but they are exporting somthing, perhaps a duty would be in order :-) Excise tax on a job? 400%.

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Re: Isn't this illegal? Immoral?

"To fire someone because you found someone else, who would do the job cheaper, IS ILLEGAL, (as well as immoral)."

It may well be illegal.

I think that forcing someone (as you say the law does) to pay a high price for something they can get for less elsewhere is immoral. Breaking agreements made voluntarily is certainly immoral. But making agreements to employ someone on the condition that you can then stop employing them after a mutually agreed notice period is not immoral.

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Re: Isn't this illegal? @ Rob Fisher

"You can't fire someone just because you don't want them to work for you any more, irrespective of the reason."

Actually you can in the UK - if they have worked for you for < 2 years.

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Re: @Rob Fisher

I am just a programmer. I am under no illusion that my employer owes me a job. Nobody owes me anything. If I want goods and services, I have to exchange my services for them with those who voluntarily choose to make the exchange. I'd rather keep threats of violence (or fines, or imprisonment or whatever) out of it.

If CSC is being irrational, well, they should be free to dispose of their property as they see fit. I only said that it is rational to hire someone to do the same thing for less money. Maybe CSC is not getting the same thing; only they can judge whether it is worth it.

"money is the only criteria": not in life, generally. But when you are a company, largely, yes. Because someone else might undercut you. If you can run a company to do the same job and pay your employees double the going rate and promise never to fire them, then this would be very noble and I would hope you succeed. But this is not something that can be enforced from above.

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

@keithpeter "I have no idea where we are going to get jobs that pay reasonable rates for the next few generations either"

We differentiate. There are still things that are better done locally, or that local people are better skilled at. Not every kind of job suits outsourcing.

Also consider that places exporting their surplus supply of engineering talent will quicky get rich and start demanding that talent for themselves. Ultimately the more skilled people there are the more work gets done; skilled people do not go un-used, long term, given sensible economic policies.

"cutting wages or employment protection does not strike me as a good road to go down" -- such things might be unpleasant, but fighting the laws of economics (mathematics? nature?) won't work. Silly polices (e.g. you must employ only local people) will just make things worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal?

Well, I lost my technical team to the 'offshore team' in india. They even bought the chaps over for a month to get a knowledge transfer. They can write efficient code, but its untidy and they totally lack any kind of business knowledge needed to produce a quality deliverable. You have to write it down to the smallest thing. And its amazing how they miss key things in the document. You point it out, they re-work. and so on.

Problem is that each resource costs less than 10k each per year. You can't keep a contractor for a much more than a month or a permie for two for that kind of money. And companies think 6 employees for the price of one is a bargain.

Sad fact is - its a shit thing to do to UK staff - but it is how it is now. Technical staff may as well face facts, you either move up the chain and bridge the Gap between business and tech or live a life of the dole.

The irony of this outsourcing is - how many tech staff have been told they can't be based at home because "it just wouldn't work" - yet apparently it works from India.

I do entirely blame the government for this though - outsourcing outside of Europe should never have been allowed - you should heavily tax the work on the way in like any other goods you would import from outside the EU. But for some reason, the scum bag big consultancies that pay f**k all in tax anyway have been allowed to operate this outrageous practice.

My advice to the CMC staff - do the handover - train your replacements (remember - be nice to them - its not their fault - they are just trying to make an honest buck) - take the extra cash on offer for doing it- then do the dirty on your employer and go directly to the client if you can - I just did and it turns out that even though I breached my employment contract that as a contractor there is pretty much fuck all they can do about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal?

If the company did fall flat on its face and die, one possible outcome would be all the staff losing their jobs and only getting the statutory minimum redundancy. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, you ought to be careful what you wish for.

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

"Firing a person and then hiring someone else who is willing to do the same job for less is just rational."

No, it looks rational if you think like a PHB and don't understand what the word really means.

Doing too much of this has consequences outside of individual departments/divisions.

Being rational means understanding those consequences. Anything less is counting beans, then being surprised when the farm burns down.

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Bronze badge
Holmes

@Rob - Re: Isn't this illegal?

You talk like a Thatcherite (free market etc) but this is Mrs Thatcher's chickens come home to roost. Ironically, she would have hated it.

Wrote :- "fighting the laws of economics .. won't work". To a large extent the "laws" of econimics are what you make them. Like the laws of a game - change the laws and you get a different game (eg Soccer --> Rugby) that still works but with different strategies.

For many years the UK had an economy in which, alongside a high degree of self-sufficiency we also imported raw materials, made stuff, and exported a proportion of it. We were doing rather well at that, far better than most of the world; even basic working families could manage a 3-bed house with a garden, such as the millions built around 1880-1939. In this, a high level of education, training, and company loyalty (both ways) were essential to make clever stuff from raw materials.

Then people like you thought of getting stuff made cheaper abroad. They claimed we would all be better-off. Transiently, this may be partly true. We can now buy absurdly cheap electronics, built by near-slave labour. However, it is going down a path that will lead the whole world to average out, economically. As the increasingly money shifts to them rather than re-circling in the UK (as in this news item), Indians, Chinese and Africans will become somewhat better off than now, but the UK and USA will be far worse (do the math) because there are only finite resources in the World (land area, food, energy, minerals). So those phone assembly "slaves" will soon be expecting to own cars and 3-bed houses themselves, and out-bidding us for the materials.

That may make you feel morally "good", but do not pretend this is good for the _UK_ economy.

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

>perhaps it would be better to reduce the cost of hiring people in the UK.

All you have to do is reduce the cost of lining in the UK (housing, food, etc) to that of a chinese prison camp and the plan would work

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PJI
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Re: Isn't this illegal? Immoral? @ Rob

Your ignorance is extraordinary.

1. one can not just reduce wages to the lowest common, international denominator if the employees are to be able to afford to live (eat, be housed, care for children, provide the market for your goods) in their country or area of residence. This is illogical, kills the local market that no longer has the wherewithal nor need to buy ever cheaper, usually inferior services.

2. this damages the firm's home country in terms of lost taxation and rising social costs for the support of the sacked workers.

3. in turn, the infrastructure that supports the company (legal, security, communications) is damaged as it becomes unsustainable with the loss of tax money to pay for it.

4. perceived savings are rarely realised overall as reduced service standards annoy customers; knowledge is lost; the overseas firms gain the knowledge and replace you; even overseas wages and infrastructure costs do rise, often faster and less predictably than in the home market; remote management is neither free, nor simple, nor fully effective. In every IT firm that I have worked, where "offshoring" is done, an amazing number of the "offshore" workers are brought "on shore" for various periods, each individual getting lower salary, but also needing airfares, accommodation, home leave, increased communications costs and still needing desks, insurance, space, equipment and still leaching knowledge away as they can not stay for ever, usually no longer than two years. Quality of documentation, service management and so on all drop, especially when different time zones are in play.

5. Most importantly, to me: business needs to cover its costs and make some profit; but its primary purpose in the larger scale of things is to be part of society, provide services and work for the inhabitants. A country with highly profitable business and poverty, disease and unemployment is a failed country, hardly indeed a country, and tends towards social collapse. Or of course, just replace us all with extremely profitable robots filling warehouses with goods for other robots and a tiny minority of "businessmen", wandering from (foreign) expensive bolt hole to bolt hole in transport systems insulated from the hoi polloi, like old fashioned, colonial expats. in HK and parts of Africa, neither knowing nor caring about the local inhabitants, culture, language nor even aware of where they are - a dying breed until resuscitated by modern, international "business", in a worse, more insidious, exploitative way than ever.

I wonder what sacrifices the senior managers of such firms are making, many of them getting bonuses, on top of generous salaries, that would cover the claimed savings.

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Unhappy

Re: Isn't this illegal? @ Rob Fisher

Regrettably, in my experience most firms can make people redundant, notwithstanding the role is still very much required, by pretty easy redefinitions. e.g. sales manager becomes executive sales coordinator and the firm justifies a reshaped workforce with either or both of a) fewer people or b) cheaper people.

I heard anecdotally that Royal Bank of Scotland used that little ruse to cut through 100s of retail banking middle management jobs quite deftly.

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Re: Isn't this illegal?

oh do feck off Rob. I was going to write a long reply but think former statement is about right.

When even a Conservative minister (Hancock) thinks you're wrong, oh he has a master in Economics...

What would he know.

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Re: @Rob Fisher

If you want a liver transplant one of the best and least-expensive places in the world is Chennai.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal?

Nah , all us Tech's would just be TUPE'd over to the new support company taking over the CSC contracts, the managers on the other hand .... well...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal?

Perhaps reducing our expenses is the better place to start. Do we need all the material crap? If people were prepared to commute longer distances then they could have lower cost mortgages too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Laws of economics

I for one choose to make the laws about profit.

I've given my position over to an offshore team in the past and I did it gladly. It was the right decision for the business at that time. Why is it that people think a business has to be sustainable just because it employs people? What's wrong with a business existing only so a few at the top can make as much money as quickly as possible so they can retire and live a good life. It's what we are all really trying to do, some are just better at it than others. By 2100 the planet is going to go tits up from over population, I say make your fortunes now and enjoy it.

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Re: @Rob Fisher

Exactly. Never forget that the IT service companies in India and elsewhere are SELLING their services. The terminology used in their sales pitch is important. They tell management at some company investigating their service that they have 3,000 engineers. If the buyer assumes that the term engineer in the sales pitch means what it traditional has in his country, (ie. BS degree in engineering from an accredited university), then, well, let the buyer beware. The difference is that when hiring individual engineers, the educational background and previous employment of their workers is known. When hiring a service company, does management actually receive any info on the actual individuals performing their work? Or are they being snookered? Is an 18 month crash course at a company owned training center the same as a BS degree from a university? Put another way, if those same Indian engineers moved to the UK, would their 18 month crash course suffice to land an engineering job?

A flood of poor quality, but cheap, kitchen appliances eventually resulted in the old high quality appliances that lasted 30 years no longer being available at all for any price. Will the same be true of engineers?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't this illegal?

I know several people who work at CSC, and they all work from home in the UK on a permanent basis. That is absolute fact.

I worked there myself on one of their first UK large contracts and watched he architects of the deal walk away rubbing their hands...the company whose business IT they claimed to provide tore their hair out after an initially promising start.... I bailed voluntarily after being stiffed by mgmt one too many times with empty promises of new experience, interesting work and career advancement, instead moved to grunt jobs way below my experience and role description. Since then several people who told me I was mad, have been severed by them. One friend (still there) set out his department's bonuses, typed up the letters, then was informed with 20 mins to go before handing them out, that all bonuses had been chopped. This news is depressing but familiar.

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FAIL

Re: Isn't this illegal?

Yes, because nothing says 'family life' like spending 4+ hours of a 24 hours day travelling...

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Silver badge

Well first

you start the backup process, then install the upgraded software , then press reset 1/2 way through the overnight batch job process and then laugh as 1/2 the UK's bank customers lose all their money.

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Anonymous Coward

Toerags.

When I worked there it was starting to go this way, and it made me doubt whether a career in hands-on technical work (development) was feasible when it was all going offshore. But I left and 10+ years on I'm still happily writing code, and there's loads of developer jobs out there.

This shows a complete lack of respect for the workforce, and they obviously place no value on their people at all. To hell with them. The workforce should go on strike.

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Anonymous Coward

"compensate" staff

as it: instead of being made redundant now, if you help us, we will make you redundant last, in a couple of months - once you've trained your replacement. Chop-chop!

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If I was going to outsource to this bunch of mercenaries I would make sure that the contract included a clause stopping the work and jobs being sent outside of the UK forever and not for a fixed term.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Sir Barry

You seem to have things the wrong way round, it's the clients that ask for the off-shoring, that's why they go to CSC in the first place.

Sometimes a client doesn't want to off-shore at all, or they only want specific parts items off-shored, and those are included in the contracts as required.

But most clients specifically ask to off-shore, so their contracts tend to have a specific timetable for what parts of their business are to be off-shored, and when it needs to be completed by.

Basically the clients are paying CSC to do the dirty work for them. so that the clients don't have to manage the off-shoring themselves.

The only things CSC off-shores themselves are their internal, none client facing, processes. Such as their own HR and payroll departments, and their internal help desk etc. which are now off-shore.

Not saying I agree with any of this. I hate off-shoring with a passion. I think for the countries like the UK it's a terribly short sighted thing to do. Farming off skilled, well paid jobs overseas. Thus reducing the wealth in the country, (and tax income etc.), thus making the country and the people impacted poorer and poorer, all to save some client a few quid, most of which will go to shareholders rather than their own customers!

Personally, I'd love to see laws that basically state if you do business in the UK, and have people specifically providing those UK services, then the people providing those services must be UK nationals based within the UK, or at least a certain %. But somehow I suspect these laws would probably break a few World Trade rules etc.

*** Reason for AC!

For my sins, I work for CSC! Originally a developer TUPE'd across from a client into CSC who had specifically asked for a headcount reduction and for a % off all work to be sent off-shore. Hence why I know what goes on inside. I moved into Architecture, as that hasn't yet gone off-shore. (Clients tend to like having face to face workshops with the Architects on major projects!)

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Anonymous Coward

Oh sure

I sincerely hope every one of them tells CSC to go fuck themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Strike?

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Anonymous Coward

Ever seen one of those toys ...

like a see-saw. Filled with liquid it flips from one state to another, then back again.

As we send work abroad, we increase the living standards of those countries. Meaning they start buying into consumerism. Demanding more so they can buy more. Thus raising wages. And this will be true in any country with a +ve inflation rate.

Eventually it will became *more* expensive to offshore than to inshore. And so the flow will reverse.

Now you need to ask yourself, cui bono from all this ....

FWIW, offshoring *increases* demand for project/programme management - particularly of a technical nature.

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Stop

Re: Ever seen one of those toys ...

In the mean time, Joe and his wife haven't managed to keep their mortgage payments up and they're now living in council-provided accommodation and neither of them are able to get a job, so they live off benefits. Joe now smokes 40 a day, and his wife's mind is slowly being chewed away by the weed she constantly smokes, thinking that it's so much healthier than cigarettes.

Oh, and the rest of us are supporting poor Joe and his wife. We feel for them, but our resentment is steadily growing worse and worse as we start to wonder why both Joe and his wife aren't out doing more basic jobs to get by - but then we know that they won't be able to ever get back on the housing ladder with those types of shitty jobs.

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