RBS moves 700 IT job roles abroad. And to the USA

The Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed a deal for offshoring 700 jobs in the technology services sector to countries such as India, Singapore and… the US.

As reported earlier this week, a newsletter circulated by Unite the Union, the union in charge of the extensive reduction in staff that is occurring as part of a two year programme, claimed “upwards of 700 Technology Services jobs will be offshored to international locations”.

RBS reluctantly confirmed to TechEye that the US would be one of the countries where job roles would be relocated – at the cost of jobs in the UK.

RBS was not able to give any further details with regards to how many jobs have already gone abroad, or what numbers would be going to which country, though it is now claimed that most will be relocated to Singapore.

According to RBS the reason the jobs, which it claims actually amount to 500, will be leaving the UK is to meet cost needs as part of a corporate downsizing, however it refused to comment on how this would be achieved by moving staff to the States.

While it is not unusual for private firms to relocate specific IT jobs to foreign locations to reduce costs, what is interesting with RBS is that the bank received in the region of £20 billion of UK taxpayer’s money to bail it out not so long ago, so quite why it is reluctant to keep jobs with UK taxpayers is unclear.

It appears that UK taxpayers will essentially be paying wages for workers in the US and other countries to perform roles that could be performed by UK IT workers.

According to IT job analyst Nick Mayes, Research Director at PAC, the offshoring is a significant problem for the jobs sector.

“It is a highly charged issue,” he told TechEye, “and a very sensitive one as, though there are certainly good elements related to offshoring, many have had bad experiences with it.

“But considering the pressures that are involved in the public sector to reduce costs it is likely that offshoring within the public sector will only continue to become more commonplace, with public ownership remaining a strong issue.”

Mayes also describes the current government stance as “very grey” at the moment, as it is difficult for the government to criticise a partially publicly owned bank such as RBS without appearing hypocritical itself.

While this is a real problem affecting the IT jobs sector, it appears all sides of the discussion are extremely reluctant to step up for any discussion.

Unite the Union couldn’t comment, as it is highly implicated in the decision, while the TUC was also afraid to make any comment that might contradict Unite’s viewpoint.

Furthermore, the Taxpayer’s Alliance, described by one MP as an “arms-length Tory front operation run by big powerful business interests who want to remove themselves from paying tax by poisoning the well of public debate around the issue”, was similarly afraid of broaching a subject despite its direct and immediate implications for those who essentially pay taxes to move jobs abroad.

Representatives in parliament are also reluctant to talk, which is perhaps unsurprising due to the expected increase in government IT jobs going abroad as cuts are reduced.

But unless more is done to highlight the movement of UK IT sector jobs abroad it will increasingly mean that decisions such as the one made by RBS, and ratified by the unions, will continue.