The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Job-bleed splits US business

Washington, March 9: Outsourcing is splitting the National Association of Manufacturers, America’s equivalent of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that hundreds of small manufacturers have quit the association, protesting against the organisation’s bigger, conglomerate members who want more and more American jobs to be sent to India, China and other developing countries.

The paper also reported a new trend in outsourced business: customers here accessing a US company’s call centre can choose if they want Indians to handle their call or insist on an American employee.

A patriotic decision to insist on an American worker comes with a price, though. The customer will have to wait for two days before his call is processed.

So far, convenience, speed and savings have won over patriotism. A whopping 86 per cent of customers who were given the option have chosen Indian call centres.

The association’s president, Jerry Jasinowski, told the Journal, that the organisation had seen a drop in its membership from among small firms, but rejected the idea that it was on account of policy.

“While we have lost some small manufacturers — a couple of hundred or more — it has been because of the severe recession that manufacturing has had,”Jasinowski said.

But the paper’s interviews with several small manufacturers painted a different picture. One small entrepreneur said he had joined the association two years ago because outsourcing was hitting his business.

But he discovered that the association’s revenues come mainly from multinational corporations, which have caused job losses in the US in the first place.

Another small manufacturer was persuaded not to quit the association by a friend, but said he will wait only a year to see what happens.

He warned that the industrial trade association will lose the support of small and medium-sized companies if they do not come to grips with their problems as a result of outsourcing.

According to the association website, 10,000 of its 14,000 members are from small and medium-sized companies, but they do not account for even a third of the organisation’s revenue.

So, it is the corporate giants, which have infinitely more money and favour sending American jobs abroad, which call the shots.

Chris Larsen, chairman of E-Loan Inc., the company which started offering customers a choice between call centres in India and the US, was quoted in the paper as saying he was surprised that E-Loan did not have to offer any financial incentive for use of answering facilities in India.

E-Loan has a contract with Wipro to act as its Indian call centre.

More US companies are expected to offer customers a choice of Indians or Americans to handle their calls as outsourcing becomes a matter of greater concern here in an election year.

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