Unions to set up inquiry into jobs exodus

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The Independent Online

A group of trade unions is set to establish a commission to address the rapidly escalating trend of companies outsourcing jobs from the UK to Asia that will examine what the long-term impact will be on Britain.

Amicus and Unifi, both unions with a heavy presence in the financial sector - which has already been heavily hit by outsourcing - are in discussions with five other unions about setting up what they say will be an "independent inquiry".

The move came after unions and business groups yesterday met Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, in the first formal attempt on the part of the Government to bring a wide range of interest groups together to tackle the controversial issue.

A spokesperson for Amicus said the union welcomed the meeting, but it now had to be backed up by a longer-term investigation into the effects of outsourcing. "We want to look at how the business decision is made which leads some companies to outsource while others arrive at the conclusion that they want to expand jobs in the UK. We also want to look at the fact that it is not just call centre jobs - 26 different types of jobs have been affected," the spokesperson added.

The unions are keen to find a person who is not too closely associated with the labour movement or with business to chair their inquiry.

Andy Scott, the CBI's director of international competitiveness, described it as a "constructive and realistic" assessment of the challenges.