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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: August 2009

12 - Offshore politics

from Part III - Other stakeholders

Summary

Backlash:

A sudden violent backward movement or reaction; A strong adverse reaction (as to a recent political or social development).

Offshoring has become one of the most important social issues of the early 2000s. While there were muted political discussions in the 1990s, the catalyst to the backlash was the Forrester report of November 2002 in which this American research organization forecast that the US would lose 3.3 million IT and office jobs to offshore destinations by 2015.

For the first time, jobs that were migrating offshore were not in factories, or assembly lines, farming, or mining, but those of white collar, highly-educated professionals. This was new and quite unsettling. We have not seen this before.

Across the US and Western Europe programmers were losing jobs. Labor unions were responding to outsourcing with strikes or strike threats, such as those of the IT departments of the Bank of Ireland and of Swansea County Council in Wales (although in both cases no offshoring was involved). UK-based financial giant HSBC did face a strike due to offshoring IT-enabled services (ITES) positions in customer services. The American edition of Computerworld published a photo of a protesting programmer, with a sign reading “Will Code for Food.” Forrester followed-up its famous American report with a forecast that the UK would lose 750,000 jobs to offshoring by 2015, of which 150,000 would be IT jobs. In Australia offshoring was forecast to cost 40,000 computer jobs by 2015. The issue of offshoring became a crisis.