12,000 jobs could go offshore, says union

28-12-2004

Another 12,000 jobs could be moved from the UK to low-cost wage centres in Asia and South Africa next year, the finance union Amicus will warn today as it calls on the government to boost education and training.

David Fleming, national officer of Amicus, said: "If the economic tide recedes then our communities are going to be left high and dry. You can't simply take thousands of jobs out of the economy with all the skills and brains that involves and pretend it won't make a difference.

"Eighteen thousand jobs have already gone and many, many more will go. It's not enough to cross our fingers and hope for the best."

Amicus said that the current high level of employment in Britain is hiding the impact that offshoring is having on an economy which it believes is fuelled by those working in banking, insurance and call centre jobs, the areas affected by off-shoring.

Amicus's concerns about off-shoring came as the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, made it clear that unions intended to push pensions to the top of the pre-election agenda.

The government is expected to wait until after the election to announce any major changes to its policy which are likely to be based on the recommendations of Adair Turner, the former head of the CBI.

Mr Turner, who is running the government's pensions commission, has already warned that 12 million Britons were failing to save enough for their old age and hinted that in his final report next autumn he might call for compulsory saving.

"Top of the list of work- related issues must be pensions," Mr Barber said. "Crisis is not too strong a word to describe our pensions problems. Almost every group in the workforce has been hit with, or is now threatened by, pensions cuts.

"We need compulsory saving with employers and employees making fair contributions. We need a guaranteed state retirement pension, reformed to make it fairer for women, and set high enough so that everyone can confidently save, knowing it will boost their pension, not be eaten up by means testing."

Miles Templeman, director general of the Institute of Directors, also called for pension reform. "The system is hideously complicated and must be made transparent and comprehensible to everyone," Mr Templeman said.

"Ultimately, we need to see a savings renaissance in the UK," he added.

Jill Treanor

The Guardian

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