UCSF moving 100 IT jobs to India despite anti-outsourcing activism

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In a move directed at cutting costs to the tune of $30 million over five years, the University of California, San Francisco, laid off 49 full-time Information Technology (IT) employees on Tuesday, and plans to outsource their work to HCL Technologies in India. Another 48 positions that were filled by contractors or lay vacant were also scrapped.

UCSF, which operates a massive health care unit and research division, has reportedly been struggling to raise revenue and reduce expenses for years now. The decision to move jobs overseas was taken in July last year, and the University has been plagued with protests and threats of potential lawsuits ever since.

On 14 November, 2016, the University received a complaint from 9 of its then-terminated employees which alleged that the university “discriminated against them based on their national origin, age, sex, and/or race.” And goes on to state that the before being terminated, they were forced to provide job training to “significantly younger, male HCL replacements, who will then perform the work overseas.”

A spokeswoman for UCSF said that the layoffs were “necessary” at this time in order to combat the rising cost of technology and in view of the huge potential savings overseas.

Anti-outsourcing lawyers and activists along with a few laid off employees held a protest at the premises on 28 February, their last day of work. Gary Gwilliam, a lawyer representing 13 employees who plan to sue the university, says that public workers from a public university should not have their jobs outsourced, as it is very different from when a corporate entity outsources work to save on costs. A recently terminated UCSF employee, Kurt Ho, says that “It’s a downgrading of services and a slap in the face for the customers”.

UCSF last year entered a $50 million, 5 year contract with HCL Technologies to perform the necessary operations, including sending employees over to the US and having existing employees train their replacements.

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