The Story of CSC and the UK Union: Can't We All Just Get Along?

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    Here’s an interesting contract that should get a lot of attention: A sizeable union in the UK has signed an agreement with service provider CSC regarding how the vendor handles contracts that involve some form of employee displacement.

    According to this press release on Amicus’ Web site, CSC agrees to work with the union to “seek alternative redeployment opportunities to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy.” Where relocation is inevitable, CSC agrees to “redeploy people to jobs of…similar career value and terms…” CSC will also work to inform Amicus early on when workforce redeployment is a possibility in a project.

    Now, this is where it gets amazing — and rather implausible. CSC also agrees to share “financial savings to be invested in skill development of the UK workforce towards the achievement of a higher place in the skill chain, and regular career/life reviews, skills assessments and individual plans to enable employees' ambitions to be realised as much as possible.”

    Why I find this unbelievable is because I’d think the financial savings would be part and parcel of the negotiated rate CSC would take into account with its client firms. In other words, that money doesn’t technically belong to CSC. It belongs to the company that’s trying to reduce expenses through the outsourcing engagement.

    To find out if that’s what the agreement actually said, I looked it up. You can read the three-page document here:

    http://www.amicustheunion.org/pdf/CSCOffshore.pdf

    Sure enough, that text appears in the agreement as well, under section 4.3.

    Perhaps this refers to work that CSC is subcontracting out itself? Perhaps it’s part of a PR mission to woo new UK government contracts?

    Whatever it heralds, I can’t see US unions sitting down at the table with service providers to hammer out comparable feel-good, do-good agreements. The former are intractable, and the latter to free to do what they wish with American workers — as long as there’s boardroom support for the outsourcing initiatives.