Unionised HP staff working on the Department for Work and Pensions Adam 2 contract are today starting industrial action over proposals to offshore their jobs to India amid government pressure on IT suppliers to cut costs.
Support staff from India set to take over some of the functions next year are due to arrive in Blighty as part of the knowledge transfer before they replace the 200 HP workers from the north-east who will be hit by the shifting work practices.
The HPers, members of the Public and Commercial Services Union, recently voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike in response to the cuts from sites including Newcastle, Lytham and Sheffield.
"This is a key test of ministers' rhetoric on the economy. They can't simultaneously demand cuts from private contractors and put their faith in them to create jobs," said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.
"The government should put s stop to this plan to ensure that no jobs are lost and the security of millions of people's personal records is not put at risk," he added.
The records of around 25 million people from England and Wales are due to be transferred to Bangalore if the changes in their current form are ratified.
The initial plan by PCS members at HP is to disrupt the training process of the Indian staff, work to rule and show no goodwill.
The union is questioning the economic advantages of offshoring and commissioning research into the process.