Letter: Globalisation of hi-tech jobs

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The Independent Online
Sir: The juxtaposition of two articles today (12 June) illustrates nicely how far off track many of our politicians are. In one we are told that Paddy Ashdown expects James Goldsmith to make Europe the central issue in the next general election, while the other tells us of union dismay at the export of some jobs to India by British Airways. While Paddy Ashdown is probably right, it is the second item which shows that Europe is nothing more than a sideshow, a distraction from the real threat to our prosperity, our sovereignty, and possibly our system of liberal democracy.

Manufacturing jobs have been exported almost without comment for some years now but deregulation and the falling costs of telecommunications mean that the process of globalisation experienced in manufacturing is now shifting into services, with a vengeance. The move by BA is a mere trickle, compared with the flood to come. As major employers follow the logic of the market we should expect a massive outflow of the relatively unskilled jobs, such as data processing. There is little to stop the bulk of such jobs in banking, insurance, and other services eventually locating in low-wage economics such as India.

You report that the GMB union concerned over the BA move intends to "seek legislation, similar to US law, stopping companies taking jobs out of Britain simply to take advantage of low pay". GMB leaders must know that this government has already opposed European and American efforts to agree much less "protectionist" measures than they suggest. Steeped in neo-classical theory the Government believes firmly that globalisation will enrich all, eventually. This may well be right, but, as many academic commentators recognise, the structural disruption and redistributive effects which occur meanwhile could be fatal.

TOM KILCOURSE

Colyton, Devon

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