A New Merger Gimmick: 'We'll Onshore Jobs'

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/01/2011 12:01:00 AM
Coming from the the world's call centre capital, I found this news interesting since it may mean T-Mobile call centre jobs in the Philippines being repatriated to the US. A few months ago, I wrote about how Kraft vowed--and then reneged--on keeping British jobs when it took over chocolate giant Cadbury. It was perhaps inevitable that British politicians got miffed and thought of making it more difficult for foreign companies to take over venerable UK brands.

The more you live, the more you learn--or so they say. Aware of the pitfalls of mergers and their politically unfavourable tendency to reduce jobs via "redundancies," American telecoms giant AT&T is trying a different tack in their takeover attempt of wireless service provider T-Mobile: We're going to onshore jobs previously offshored. Actually, I do not need convincing that outsourcing is not always a positive move. Linguistic, cultural, and technical advantages are possible from keeping services in-house. However, if AT&T is saying that it will "bring back jobs" purely to score political points with telecoms regulators--or worse don't deliver on these promises a la Kraft--there will surely be a backlash if the merger pushes through. From Reuters:
Telecommunications giant AT&T Inc, whose proposed buy of T-Mobile USA is under scrutiny by U.S. regulators, promised to bring 5,000 wireless call-center jobs back to the United States if the deal wins approval. The company has not decided where in the United States the positions will be located, AT&T said in a statement. The jobs are currently outsourced to other countries. The new U.S. employees will be eligible to join the company's unionized workforce [that's quite some promise since non-unionization is part of the reason for sending service jobs abroad].

AT&T also said the merger will not cause any job losses for U.S.-based wireless call-center employees of T-Mobile USA or AT&T who are on the payroll when the merger closes. Currently, AT&T and T-Mobile have a combined total of 25,000 U.S.-based wireless call-center employees. The company would not comment on how many employees would remain overseas after the 5,000 jobs move back to the United States.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are reviewing the proposed $39 billion purchase by AT&T of smaller rival T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG. If approved as proposed, the merger would concentrate 80 percent of the U.S. wireless market in AT&T/T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc. AT&T has said the deal would allow it to quickly add capacity to meet growing demand for high-speed wireless service. Rivals such as Sprint Nextel Corp say the combination would hurt competition, while public interest groups have argued it would lead to higher prices.
Given how paranoid Americans have become about the dearth of jobs Stateside, it will be interesting to see if this line of argument works.