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BT faces flak over low wages to Indians

May 06, 2003 20:54 IST

British Telecommunication is at the centre of a fresh storm over exporting jobs to India after it emerged that several hundred Indian software developers are being employed in the UK but are being paid in India at greatly reduced rates compared with British workers.

BT is already facing the union's ire over its plan to open two call centres in India, employing over 2,200 people.

Indian software engineers are working on key BT projects including the company's core IT systems and creating software for helpdesks.

The engineers are employed by Mahindra BT, an Indian software company in which BT owns 43 per cent stake.

According to some observers, the Indian engineers were getting just a quarter of the rate in Britain.

Neither BT nor MBT would reveal the exact number of workers being employed in the UK and paid in India, nor how much their wages were. But said these were matters for MBT, which has a large UK office.

MBT said that BT has asked it not to divulge the figures because of 'commercial sensitivity'.

Both said MBT workers in Britain received a living allowance for their expenses in the UK on top of their Indian salary.

Jeannie Drake, deputy general secretary of the Communications Workers Union said it was outrageous to pay people less than the UK rates.

"If they are working in the country, they should be paid in the country, anything else is sheer exploitation. We are actively opposing the movement of work to India."

A spokesman for BT said that MBT had proved the best option for the software work and that it was up to them how they paid their employees. He said the contract for the work, which is largely done at Hemel in Hempstead and Watford in Hertfordshire was for 'many years'.

H S Rao in London
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