The Times has commissioned a company in India to help build its new website, because it claims there are more trained graduates there than in the UK who can carry out the work.
Minutes obtained by Press Gazette of a meeting of the Wapping branch of the News International Staff Association reveal that the Indian arm of multi-national consultancy firm Sapient was hired to rebuild Times Online last year. The minutes reveal that NI bosses hope the relaunched site will increase its unique users from nine million per month to 10 million by June this year.
In a question and answer session between staff and Times Online editorial director Anne Spackman, someone asked: ‘Can you advise why the pages were built in India when there are many skilled companies in the UK?’She replied: ‘There are more trained IT graduates in India who can carry out this very skilled work.’Spackman said no Times staff would be moving to India and said no jobs would be lost due to the deal.
During a presentation of the new site, Spackman said the redesigned site would ‘offer advertisers an online and newspaper print solution to advertising.’A News International spokeswoman said: ‘Our in-house web design technology team is working with one of the world’s leading web consultants, Sapient, who have teams across the globe, including India. We are a global company and like to do business with the best suppliers, whether they are in the UK or overseas.” In December, Press Gazette revealed that London-based financial newswire AFX was hiring English-speaking journalists to work UK shifts in Mumbai, India.
NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said this week that the union would soon complete a deal with several Indian journalists’ unions promising ‘international standards’both in the quality of outsourced work and the treatment of Indian workers and said the real motive behind such deals was cost alone.
He said: ‘My concern about these deals is that there is no proper research into the facilities or the conditions of workers there. Proportionally, I would be surprised if there were more graduates in India. The justification, that [Spackman] was probably trying to avoid is that it’s cheap.”