Thursday, 28 June 2012

Blame It On The Indians

As the problems affecting thousands of account holders at RBS and its constituents – including NatWest and Coutts, the bank the Royals use – are gradually sorted out, the blame is being dumped, as so often, on the most junior staffer involved. Moreover, that person is in India, which makes it doubly convenient: it’s a bloody foreigner and they’re a long way away.


You f***ing calling my hacks hypocrites, c***?!?

But before hordes of people remind anyone who will hear that Prince Philip Was Right All Along, a note of caution should be sounded. The junior operative could just as easily have been someone working in the UK. This thought, though, has not been allowed to enter by the why-oh-why part of the Fourth Estate, where Alex Brummer of the Mail bemoans the practice of “offshoring” jobs.

After all, RBS is now owned substantially by the taxpayer, so why, he asks, do we have to put up with a “heavy accent and lack of local knowledge of our situation”? This is, of course, one of those issues that the Mail (and the rest) can argue both ways in order to suit their agenda. If RBS didn’t lower its wage bill then the Dacre hacks would be kicking them for not giving taxpayers value for money.

And the idea that RBS is somehow alone in the practice – or that India is the only place where offshoring takes place – is ludicrous. Anyone who uses the services of BT knows that they, too, have not only call centres, but also significant technical expertise deployed in India. Insurance giant Aviva has been offshoring work to the sub-continent for almost a decade.

Branches of other multinationals base their call centres and internal advice desks in Malaysia, Thailand, and even parts of the USA which are considered “low cost”: the Carolinas are often categorised thus. Parts of Ireland and Scotland attract call centres due to the ability to attract local labour at favourable costs (often including tax breaks and other incentives to the company concerned).

Instead of acknowledging this reality, Brummer says of India “it is extraordinarily difficult for management to remain in day-to-day control”, which is complete crap. The control exercised is just as tight as it would be in the UK – maybe moreso. Brummer’s citing of Santander bringing call centres back to the UK proves only that Santander got a good deal from wherever in the UK it set up shop.

This does not detain the Mail pundit, who thunders “Such outsourcing is a betrayal of the UK — and a lethal blow to our ambition to be a modern, technology-savvy economy capable of competing with the rest of the world”. He does not stop to think that he is effectively arguing for the minimum wage, which the Mail was so dead against when the rotten lefty Labour Government introduced it.

Hopefully not too many of his readers will remember that far back. Fingers crossed.

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