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.”
Contact: Mick Rix 07971 268 343 or Gary Pearce 07850 036 952 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823
Notes to editors
Copy of report in Financial Times December 20, 2015
Plan for UK visa clampdown threatens tech companies
Gonzalo Viña, Public Policy Reporter
The UK government’s immigration advisers are pushing for a clampdown on visas for skilled workers from outside the EU, in a move that would be a blow to global technology companies that operate in Britain.
The Home Office is looking at ways to tighten the rules for “tier 2” visas that apply to internal company transfers, and the Migration Advisory Committee is expected to recommend focusing on big international businesses that move staff to projects in different countries.
Sir David Metcalf, chairman of the MAC, is due to present his proposals to the Home Office this week and his report will be made public towards the end of January. The committee would not comment on his recommendations.
Among the options Sir David is understood to be considering, is a skills levy on employers recruiting from outside the EU. While he may hold back from proposals to raise the minimum salary to qualify for a visa or to limit dependants’ right to work, companies are worried about any plans that will limit their ability to transfer employees.
Four of the top five short and long-term intra-company transfers in the year ending in March were in IT, telecoms or software development, according to Home Office data.
By country, India is top, accounting for 31,093 sponsored skilled visa applications in the year to September, followed by the US with 6,533. Companies including Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services from India and Accenture and IBM from the US are likely to be hardest hit.
India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies said it had engaged in the public consultation and had stressed the importance of tier 2 visas.
“These skilled workers make a valuable contribution to the UK economy by delivering specialist technical knowledge and skills to British companies,” the association said.
“This is not something that we would support,” said Emanuel Adam, head of policy at British American Business. “Restricting tier 2 in any way will have a negative impact on companies and organisations assessing business opportunities?.?.?.?in the UK.”
Controlling immigration has become one of the defining issues of David Cameron’s government and is a key factor in negotiations to reshape Britain’s relationship with the rest of the EU.
But efforts to reduce the number of people coming from Europe — often cited as a worry by voters — remain subject to the unpredictable outcome of negotiations with the rest of the bloc.
That has left the government looking to reduce workers from outside the EU in order to bring net migration down to the promised “tens of thousands” from the most recent figure of 336,000.
“We have to be extremely cautious, as this will have a very significant impact — we must not to cut off our nose to spite our face,” said Jurga McCluskey, head of immigration at consultancy Deloitte.
The number of tier 2 visas — including extensions, visas for dependants and new visas — increased by almost a third to 151,659 between 2009 and 2014, according to the Home Office. More than twice as many visas are granted for intra-company transfers as for other skilled workers with a job offer.
Matthew Percival, head of employment law at the Confederation of British Industry, the country’s biggest employers’ group, said: “The net migration target remains a blunt instrument that is not fit for purpose and should have been scrapped long ago.”
The restrictions would face stiff opposition from George Osborne, chancellor, and could sour relations with India. Last month, both countries signed a joint statement agreeing “to facilitate the temporary movement of skilled personnel” in the IT industry.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs committee of MPs, said last week the cap was “counter-productive” because it did little to reduce net migration but made it hard to find staff. Tony Haque, immigration lawyer at Baker & McKenzie, said the curbs might simply result in more workers being brought in from the EU.
Julia Onslow-Cole, the head of PwC’s global immigration practice, said Sir David was likely to recommend differentiating between traditional forms of intra-company transfers and those used mainly by the IT sector.
She also expected the committee to favour a skills levy that raises money for the exchequer, instead of increasing the salary threshold. Sir David is looking to use this money to fund apprenticeships.
The Home Office had no immediate comment.