The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has estimated that as many as 38,000 service sector workers could lose their jobs as employers shift work offshore.

In a significant new paper on offshore outsourcing, ICTU says shop stewards and union officials have to be more adaptable and seek retraining and upskilling for their members.

Savings of as much as 58% are being reported by companies who have moved service sector jobs to India and that is why ICTU believes the trend towards offshoring of jobs will continue to grow.

It says it will affect middle class white-collar workers, and estimates that as many as 38,000 jobs could go.

The report calls for new initiatives under social partnership to deal with the threat and to mitigate its worst effects.

The unions want a greater focus on preventative measures to upskill workers before the offshore threat becomes a reality.

ICTU wants management to invest more, rather than taking profits at the expense of their firms.

Congress also wants a big improvement in social welfare payments and retraining for people who lose jobs so that workers become less fearful of flexibility.

In addition, the paper calls for Irish labour law and its enforcement to be considerably strengthened.