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Investigate Tata visa abuse

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
GMB Calls On Home Affairs Select Committee To Investigate Tata Abuse Of Visa System

Tata can't be allowed to flout visa rules to put British Airways workers out of a job says GMB.

Tata, the company putting thousands of jobs at risk by selling off its UK steel business, is today the subject of a letter from GMB, on the behalf of British Airways workers, calling for an investigation into the company's use of visas for foreign workers. (See notes to editors for a copy of the letter and GMB press releases about the Migration Advisory Committee).

In the letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, GMB questioned whether workers at Tata subsidiary Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are eligible for the Tier 2 visas used to employ foreign workers in the UK. It goes on to point out that TCS is in breach of immigration rules by paying workers as little as £10,000 per annum, when Home Office rules require a minimum yearly wage of £24,800 or the ‘appropriate rate’ (whichever is higher).

The letter follows a report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which reported on the misuse of Tier 2 visas in January. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is yet to respond to communications from GMB.

BA plans to outsource most of its IT services to Indian company TCS leading to the loss of up to 800 highly skilled jobs in West London. While much of the work is planned to be carried out in India, the outsourcing rests on TCS’s ability to bring a number of Indian workers 'air side'.

Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said "British Airways are using Tata – the company putting the future of British steel at risk – to put the livelihoods of hundreds more people in West London on the line and they're doing it to make a few extra quid on top of their already large profits.

BA and Tata are shipping hundreds of well-paid skilled jobs to India and using loopholes in the visa system to do it.

The Home Secretary and the Home Affairs Select Committee must investigate what's happening here before we lose vital skills, jobs and training opportunities in our economy. Tata can't be allowed to flout visa rules to put British Airways workers out of a job.”

End

Contact: Mick Rix on 07971 268 343 or Lisa Johnson 07900 392228 or GMB press office on 07970 863 411 or 07739 182 691

Notes to Editors

1 Copy of Letter to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee

Dear Keith,

I am writing to you as a National Officer at GMB to ask if your committee – after the publication by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on Tier 2 visas in January - will consider looking into an urgent issue concerning the misuse of the Tier 2 visa system.

The recent MAC report recommended changes to the status quo when it comes to Tier 2, especially when it comes to Intra Company Transfers and the IT industry. There has, as yet, been no government response, despite MPs tabling parliamentary questions.

I would like to briefly explain, with a case study, why this is an issue that is of urgent interest within the remit of your committee.

Tier 2 visas, outsourcing and British Airways

· BA will make skilled UK IT workers redundant. People in that profession earn around £50,000 per year.

· BA will outsource those jobs to Tata Consulting Services (an arm of the same company currently embroiled in potential job losses in British steel), which is based in India.

· It is estimated that around 80% of the work BA employees do now will happen in India but some of it has to be done on the ground at Heathrow. We have seen evidence on the ground to suggest that the overseas Tata workers who will replace us here in London are set to earn around £10,000 per year with an extra £8,400 in ‘expenses’. This is in direct breach of rules which state such workers should be paid £24,800 of the 'appropriate rate' whichever is higher.

· Tata workers will be able to work here on a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visa. It’s an intra-company transfer because those workers are already employed by Tata in India, however, it is our understanding that they do not meet the criteria to be awarded those visas.

The ability of TCS to fulfil the contract that will put up to 800 skilled workers out of a job rests on their overseas workers being awarded Tier 2 visas.

The reasons we believe there to be an abuse in the system (again using BA as a case study, we have no way as a union to ascertain how wide spread this practice is):
To apply for a Tier 2 (ICT):

· You cannot be replacing a permanent UK worker.

- 2-

Situation at BA: around 900 workers are being made redundant. The company are outsourcing the jobs first, but the fact remains that Tier 2 (ICT) workers will work in the UK, directly in roles that are currently being made redundant.

· Workers cannot be ‘sponsored to undertake an on-going routine role or to provide an on-going routine service for a third party’.


Situation at BA: Tier 2 (ICT) workers will be performing the exact same routine and daily operations as the current BA IT staff.

· Workers must provide a time bound service or project.

Situation at BA: the company may rotate workers to and from India, but as the positions are to fill routine services, there is no way this is a specific project. It is day to day operations.

· Short term/graduate applicants must earn at least £24,800 or the ‘appropriate rate’ (whichever is higher) and long term workers £41,500.

Situation at BA: We believe that Tier 2 (ICT) workers are currently earing around £10,000 with an allowance of £700 per month. The absolute maximum in that situation is £18,400 which is well below the threshold and nowhere near the ‘appropriate’ rate.
There are a number of questions that we have put to the Home Secretary but as of yet have not received a response.

Replies from the Immigration Minister restate many of the points we have made here, but with no remedy. Responses to Parliamentary questions also show that there is no limit to the number of Tier 2 (ICT) visas that can be awarded to one company.
We are particularly concerned about:

· Who is checking that Tier 2 (ICT) visa’s meet the requirements?

· How widespread is the problem we are seeing in British Airways?

· When will the Home Secretary respond to the Migration Advisory Committee report on tier 2 visas?


What action will the government take to close these loopholes that are completely outside the spirit and intention of the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer visa.
We would greatly appreciate if your committee could take the time to look into this matter.

I am sure the MAC itself would provide very useful insight.
We have used a case study here that impacts our members in the here and now, but there is potential for this abuse of both the visa system and low paid migrant workers to be far more wide spread.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Rix

GMB National Officer

2 Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Clamp Down On Abuse Of Tier 2 Visas For Third Party Contracting A Step In The Right Direction For 900 BA Jobs At Risk Says GMB

These jobs are at risk due to outsourcing specialist IT workers to TCS and replacing them with workers recruited overseas and flown into the UK on tier 2 visas says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at BA, commented on the recommendations from The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that the Government uses higher salary thresholds to prioritise higher value, skilled migrants within the Tier 2 visa route and that third-party contracting should become a separate route under Tier 2. See notes to editors for copy of press release from MAC dated 19th January and copies of previous GMB press releases on BA jobs at risk from third-party contracting.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for members at BA, said “These MAC recommendations are a step in the right direction.

The minimum salary threshold to stop businesses like British Airways (BA) abusing the Tier 2 route to sack workers in the UK and replace them with lower paid workers from overseas needs to looked at further. A more sensible threshold should be around £41,500.

GMB are seeking a meeting with MAC to put forward our views and also to present evidence where UK employers like BA are currently abusing the arrangements on Tier 2 visas.

As things stand members employed in the IT department at BA are to be replaced with next spring with workers recruited overseas and flown into the UK on tier 2 visas. This is a direct result of the BA decision to outsource its 900 specialist IT jobs to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

There are around 900 jobs at risk based at BA HQ in Harmondsworth, the BA's call centre in Newcastle, and at other locations in Manchester, Cardiff and Scotland.

In December GMB wrote to the Migration Advisory Committee and Home Office asking them to clampdown on such abuse of tier 2 visas by BA and TCS. Last week (13th January) GMB also met MPs in the House of Commons to make representations on this.

The MAC is right to recommend that third-party contracting should become a separate route under Tier 2.

GMB also welcome MAC recognising the specific situation in the IT industry. We urge the government to undertake the review into IT and Tier 2 visas with the greatest urgency and to enforce a resident labour market test to third party contractors with immediate effect. This test would require jobs to be awarded to overseas workers only if a suitable candidate cannot be found in the UK.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, added, "Should the Government sign up to free trade agreements being negotiated on their behalf in secret by the EU, such as the Transfer in Services Agreement (TISA), it will have forfeited all rights to regulate the supply of labour from overseas, regardless of existing domestic legislation.

If TISA is agreed and comes into force migrant workers would not be subject to UK labour laws, thus undermining hard won terms and conditions, leading to a race to the bottom.

MEPs voted yesterday to continue with TISA, a deal that would effectively remove Parliament's ability to decide who was eligible to work in the UK and on what terms.”

End

3 Copy of GMB press release dated 12 January 2016

GMB Meet MPs On Wed 13th Jan To Halt British Airways Plan To Outsource Jobs And Abuse Tier 2 Visa System

These latest developments should worry MPs and the government that UK security interests are being handed over glibly to a foreign national company says GMB

GMB representatives will tomorrow (13th January) call on MPs in the House of Commons to make representations to British Airways (BA) over plans to outsource its 900 specialist IT jobs to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Last month GMB wrote to the Migration Advisory Committee and Home Office asking them to clampdown on abuse of tier 2 visas by BA and TCS following the outsourcing of the jobs. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release dated 22nd December 2015.

There are around 900 jobs at risk, with BA IT colleagues based at various locations in the UK, at BA Headquarters at Waterside in Harmondsworth, West London, BA's call centre in Newcastle, and at other locations in Manchester, Cardiff and Scotland.

Mick Rix GMB National Officer for Civil Aviation said "GMB asked for a meeting at a senior level with BA at the end of last year. This was to discuss matters of concern to members in private about reports that safety and security lapses apparently took place on BA work already undertaken by TCS. BA regrettably declined to meet.

There are many serious matters of concern with the company proposal, not least the devastating economic impact these job losses will have on GMB members, their families and the communities where they live. There are also concerns relating to the continued security of the airline operations, UK national security, along with flights intended for the US.

BA IT staff carry out important reporting work to the UK Home Office and the US Federal authorities on required national security matters, regarding passenger and cargo lists for flights coming into and out of the UK and for fights destined to the US.

It is a shame that BA did not want to meet us privately where we could have discussed information we have obtained. I would have preferred to have had those discussions in private. We are faced with no other option due to BA’s failure to meet with senior GMB officials that we intend to brief and advise MPs on our concerns.

GMB believe these latest developments should worry MPs and the government that UK security interests are being handed over glibly to a foreign national company.

I find it incredible and of serious concern that in these times of very heightened security measures, due to the threat by terrorists to civil aviation flights, that the transfer of important national security reporting work, currently operated by BA IT staff, is to be offshored to TCS in India, so that BA and IAG can save a couple of bucks.”

End.

4 GMB press release dated December 22, 2015

GMB Call On Migration Advisory Committee And Home Office To Clampdown On Abuse Of Visas By BA And Tata Consultancy Service

As things stand members employed in the IT department at British Airways are to be replaced with next spring with workers recruited in India and flown into the UK on tier 2 visas says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at British Airways, commented on a report that Migration Advisory Committee are pushing for a clampdown on visas for skilled workers from outside the EU. See notes to editors for copy of report in Financial Times December 20, 2015

Mick Rix, GMB National officer, said “This clampdown on abuses of the tier 2 visas is long overdue.

As things stand GMB members employed in the IT department at British Airways are to be replaced from next spring with workers recruited in India and flown into the UK on tier 2 visas.

This is after BA outsources sections of its IT department to Tata Consultancy Services. GMB understand that Tata intend to abuse the tier 2 visas to move their own staff from India to replace our members.

GMB intend to write to Sir David Metcalf chairman of Migration Advisory Committee and the Home Office asking them to clampdown on abuses by BA and Tata Consultancy Services.”

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