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Westpac faces criticism over off-shoring

Westpac, one of Australia's largest banks, is planning to outsource 400 jobs to India by the end of 2006, prompting criticism from financial workers' unions.

Although no final decision has been made on the matter, the bank is reported to be considering off-shoring 400 back-office jobs to the subcontinent as part of what is becoming a growing trend of outsourcing within Australia's financial sector.

Reacting to the move, the Finance Sector Union (FSU) called for government intervention in order to prevent the loss of Australian jobs in the financial sector, with competition from the cheaper labor market in India becoming an increasingly serious problem.

Speaking to the Australian newspaper, an FSU spokesman said: "We think that companies holding a licence to operate in Australia, like banks, have an obligation to invest in Australian jobs and skills, given the high level of profits they earn."

India has become a favoured destination for off-shoring of jobs in recent years, due to the presence of a highly skilled workforce but with lower operational costs.

These financial benefits have prompted a steady flow of jobs to India from the Australian, US and European markets.