Trade union charges baseless: TCS on British Airways disruptions

A Labour Party-backed trade union has been blaming British Airways’ decision to outsource IT jobs to India for flights disruptions in London

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Business Bureau

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has rejected allegations that it is to be blamed for Information Technology (IT) outage at London’s airports over the weekend, after a labour union squarely blamed the decision to outsource IT jobs by British Airways (BA) last year for the problem.

“We don’t have anything to do with this problem. Even British Airways has rejected the GMB Union’s claims,” said Harsha Ramachandra, the Head of Communications for India at TCS.

GMB, a trade union which claims to represent 6,31,000 workers working across different industries in the United Kingdom, said that the airline disruptions were avoidable.

“In 2016, BA made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India. BA has made substantial profits for a number of years, and many viewed the company’s action as just plain greedy,” Mick Rix, national officer for aviation at GMB, was quoted as saying.

However, British Airways has rejected GMB’s allegations. In a video uploaded by British Airways on Sunday, Chief Executive Alex Cruz blamed a “power supply” issue for the disruptions.

British Airways outsourced 70% of its End User Computing (EUC) operations to TCS on March 1, last year, after the Indian tech giant’s successful tender bid, according to documents on GMB’s website.

According to reports, a huge uproar had been created by GMB’s supporters over the last year’s decision. An airline spokesperson had said that only 200 jobs had been affected due to the outsourcing move.

“A contract has been signed with TCS to be the supplier of some IT activities in BA. The airline has been in consultation with those IT staff affected, about 200. BA employs around 35,000 people in the UK, providing high-skilled and well-paid jobs. It hires 1,000 people a year and has a strong apprenticeship programme," a BA spokesperson had said.

Global IT system failure

The chaos triggered by computer system failure on Saturday continued till Monday. At the peak of the IT crisis on Saturday, the airline had cancelled all flights from both of London’s airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. BA had termed the crisis as a “global IT system failure.”

Tens of thousands of passengers booked on both long and short distance flights from London were hit, according to London-based Financial Times.

The business daily reported that while operations on most long-route flights had returned to normal by Monday morning, short-route flights still remained affected.

Incoming passengers, on the other hand, were stranded at the airports for hours and complained of long queues and poor service from the airline.

BA said that it was booking replacement flights for all the affected passengers. In a statement carried by Financial Times, British Airways said, “We are working hard to get our customers who were due to fly today on to the next available flights over the course of the rest of the weekend. Those unable to fly will be offered a full refund.”

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