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Strike Halts Work At India's Outsourcing Tech Hub

Software companies and outsourcers implemented business continuity plans as the city ground to a halt amid a general strike called by government employees.
Software companies and outsourcers in India's Bangalore tech hub invoked business continuity plans Wednesday as the city ground to a halt amid a general strike called by government employees seeking to draw attention to a border dispute.

At Tata Consultancy Services, which maintains about 9,000 employees in the Bangalore area and is India's largest provider of IT outsourcing services, critical customer work was moved over high-speed intranet cables to facilities in other parts of the country, according to a TCS spokesman. "There are some jobs that have to be worked on hourly, so that work was moved," says the spokesman. The spokesman maintains that customer work wasn't disrupted by the work stoppage.

Operations at Wipro Technologies, another large Indian outsourcer with significant operations in Bangalore, were halted for much of Wednesday and workers sent home. A spokesman says the company plans to add additional shifts on Saturday to make up for the lost time. 24/7 Customer, which runs offshore call centers in India on behalf of U.S. businesses, shifted work from its Bangalore operations to facilities in Hyderabad and Chennai to avoid service outages, company officials said in a statement. The company said services to customers weren't disrupted.

Bangalore and its surroundings are also home to the Indian operations of many U.S.-based technology companies, including Microsoft, IBM, and Intel. Spokesmen for those companies couldn't immediately be reached.

According to a report in India's Hindustan Times on Wednesday, large technology office parks in and around Bangalore that would normally have been bustling with activity were deserted during the labor action. The strike was called by workers in Bangalore's public sector. While India's tech workers aren't part of the union that called the strike, businesses in Bangalore were forced to shut down due to the stoppage of most public services.

The strikers were seeking to draw attention to the disputed border town of Belgaum, about 300 miles north of Bangalore, which is located in the Indian state of Karnataka. Most Karnataka residents want Belgaum to remain part of their state, but it's also claimed by the neighboring Indian state of Maharashtra.

TCS's spokesman said the strike was over by 6 p.m. local time in Bangalore on Wednesday, and that the company is expecting to resume operations as normal on Thursday.