In the Santa Clause Village in Rovaniemi, Finland, Christmas is a yearlong affair. Though Santa collects lists and delivers presents in a few days before Christmas, workers at the Santa Claus Operations (SCO) centre have to work all throughout the year, monitoring shopping trends, ordering gifts from manufacturers, and packing them ready for delivery. Naturally, workers in this part of Finnish Lapland take great pride in their work and are quite pleased with everything.
But yesterday, disaster struck Rovanemi when it was revealed that the board of directors of SCO had decided to shift jobs from the Village to India. Their work will be handled by Wipro Spectramind, India's largest outsourcing firm. On the London Stock Exchange, the SCO share price was unchanged from previous close, but volumes were several times higher.
A sense of disbelief hung over the Village and a few people even joked about it. But when the Internet magazine The Register released a "Santa Sent My Job Overseas And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" t-shirt, tempers ran high. One worker raged, "We are going to be fired and a bunch of cow-worshippers are going to take our jobs. For heavensake, they are not Christians!"
The outsourcing guru Lou Dobbs says, "Most kids these days want a Playstation or a Victoria Secret model girlfriend. To call a Sony distributor or to write a 'Naughty Kid' card, you don't have to be a full-blooded coreligionist. Kids are happy if they get the gifts they asked for."
On national television, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen complained that business leaders were selling Finland. Opposition leader Suvi-Anne Siimes alleged that the government was not doing enough to protect Finnish jobs and was probably hand-in-hand with industry leaders in exporting jobs.
Back in the Village, elders advised calm and the majority to decided to seek solace in prayer for the time being. Most workers left prayer requests at the local church. Dobbs smiled wryly. "You know, many churches these days send prayer requests to India. They will probably laugh their heads off when they read these requests."
Churches and pilgrim centers in the United States and European countries are outsourcing hundreds of thousands of masses to parishes in the state of Kerala, which has the largest number of churches in India.