Wednesday, 31 January 2018 04:45

Outsourcing like Toll more prevalent than known: IT group Featured

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The president of IT workers' lobby group IT Professionals Association says the shafting of IT workers, as revealed to be happening at logistics behemoth Toll Holdings, is much more prevalent than is made public.

“You can be sure that there is a lot more of this happening than just those that come to the attention of the media. It is rife in the industry," Robert Hudson said when asked for comment on yesterday's iTWire report that Toll would be shafting more than 200 IT workers and outsourcing their jobs to India. 

He added that it was symptomatic of corporations looking to use technology as a platform to cut costs.

This sort of response — cutting local workers — by large companies seemed to be "symptomatic of what many large companies are doing or looking to do" Hudson said, lamenting the fact that, "unfortunately, cutting-edge technologies make it feasible for companies to leverage cloud computing and overseas workers to cut costs".

As iTWire reported, the headquarters for the Toll IT operations will be located in the Indian city of Pune, about two hours travel from the commercial capital Mumbai. An official newsletter from Toll indicates that the Pune centre will be staffed by 250 IT professionals.

“In many ways it (outsourcing) is related to the type of activity we saw under the 457 visas of the past and continue to see under the new Temporary Skills Shortage visas where companies are simply seeking to reduce costs with no consideration for the impacts on the local IT workforce," Hudson said.

The ITPA has been a strong campaigner against what it dubs the "abuse" of the 457 visa programme by companies hiring immigrant workers ahead of local ICT graduates or to replace retrenched, older ICT workers.

Hudson said the constant push to replace local workers with outsiders was definitely making it worse for local IT students and graduates who were now facing a local employment market-place with even fewer available roles and competing against foreign IT workers who were willing to put up with significantly lower wages.

“Governments don’t have to, and should not, stand by idly and let this happen," Hudson said. "They should be working with industry, tertiary education institutions and employers of IT professionals to help create and keep jobs here in Australia through incentives to hire local workers.”

Neither the government nor the opposition has responded to iTWire's request for comment on the Toll move. Coalition Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and her Labor counterpart, Brendan O'Connor, were contacted yesterday; the two are yet to respond.

Said Hudson: “Governments and regulatory authorities can help IT professionals obtain and keep their jobs by offering incentives for companies to introduce internships and grad year appointments to students and graduates. Or penalties for companies that send their jobs overseas.

“I think IT organisations that go down this path are going to find that they are shooting themselves in the foot. Inevitably it will lead to a decline in quality and intimacy of IT services that are being delivered to the business and its employees."

He said the quality of IT services an organisation received was core "to the productivity of its staff, to their competitiveness in a global market or ultimately to the quality of customer service they deliver to clients".

"It’s bad business sense to try to save save a few pennies up front but see negative affects the broader business objectives in the long run.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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