November 13, 2006 09:08 ET

Amicus to present dossier of alleged work permit abuse in UK key sectors to Home Office Ministers

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 13, 2006) - In a dossier to be presented to Home Office Ministers on Tuesday 14 November, Amicus is to name high profile high tech companies which the union alleges may be abusing the work permits system.

The companies, which include IBM, EDS and Xansa, have been reported by Amicus representatives working for these companies, on the basis of complaints received from Amicus members.

The allegations include, the replacement of UK resident employees by overseas workers brought in by the companies, UK resident workers who face redundancy being expected to train overseas workers, and in one extraordinary case the offer of a cheaper contract if the work is carried out in the UK by non-EU nationals rather than by UK nationals.

Amicus says it is concerned that the UK work permit system may be damaging skills investment and affecting the UK's ability to compete in key industry sectors. Amicus has put forward a plan for action to the Home Office.

In a report published earlier this year, the union reported evidence that industries such as IT are seeing an influx of short-term workers from abroad at the expense of resident UK professionals. Amicus says that a more rigorous approach needs to be applied to the granting of work permits with a stronger onus on companies to prove they are unable to recruit those skills in the UK.

Amicus' National Officer for the IT sector, Peter Skyte, said: "We accept that where there is a shortfall in a particular skill that cannot be met by UK resident workers or through training, then that expertise should be brought in from abroad but companies should not be allowed to abuse the work permit scheme as an opportunity to put short-term profits before long-term investment in the UK resident workforce.

"Our workplace representatives are reporting what they regard as blatant abuse resulting in redundancies and lack of training for the UK resident workforce. The Government must investigate these cases and put a stop to any abuse of the system which is damaging to workers in the UK."

Amicus highlights the need for the work permits system to;

- Provide the right balance between the needs of the existing and potential resident labour force and the desire by companies to import the required skills.
- To avoid damaging the UK economy by reducing incentives for companies to create talent pipelines within the resident workforce.
- Avoid the destroying of pathways into higher-skilled jobs in the UK.
- Prevent the flattening or lowering of salaries and increasing employment insecurity.
- Avoid depressing the ability to attract the brightest and best people in the UK to develop and pursue an IT-related career.
- Ensure the UK's competitive edge in the domestic and world economy is maintained

Amicus say that the there has been a huge increase in the number of work permits granted for IT occupations over recent years from 1,800 in 1995 to 30,000 in the last year, despite the IT workforce falling since 2001. 75% of work permits are for transfers within companies, whereas only 11% of all work permits issued for non-IT occupations are for this route.

Pay data also shows that 66% of IT work permit holders are paid less than the equivalent of GBP30,000 per year. Given that the average salary of an IT professional is GBP32,500 in the UK, on the face of it the majority of IT work permit holders would appear to be undercutting the industry average salary.


Contact Information

  • Amicus
    Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315
    Peter Skyte
    07768 931 302