Swansea IT striker speaks out

'I want to provide a public service, not line shareholders' pockets'

IT workers at Swansea Council claim they have been let down by their employer over plans to hire a private firm to introduce a new e-government scheme.

The Council is currently negotiating with two companies -ITNET and Cap Gemini - to deliver a new system that would make access to council services quicker and easier. The local authority says the Service@Swansea scheme will transform the way the council meets the needs of residents.

In a bid to ease the concerns of the 100 or so IT staff affected, the council has promised a set of "Golden Guarantees" if workers are transferred to a private company.

So, with assurances that no-one will lose their job as a result of any proposed transfer, along with other pledges concerning terms and conditions, why did 100 IT workers walk out on Monday after voting to strike indefintely?

Here, one of those taking industrial action, who has asked not to be named, explains why the action is so important.

"I'm taking industrial action because the council appears hell-bent on forcing me and my colleagues into the private sector. We don't want to work for a company where profit comes before doing a proper job for the community we live in.

I've made a conscious decision to stay at the council even though I've been offered plenty of other jobs elsewhere. Why? Because I feel the quality of the work remains unsullied by any drive for profit. Sure, it's sometimes difficult, sometimes frustrating. Ultimately, though, it's a rewarding job and that's what's important to me.

Just because we want to stay council emplyees, we've been unfairly acused of being "resistant to change" and of "living in a comfort zone".

That's just wrong. I feel cheated, betrayed, by the council. Which is why I'm determined to stand by my colleagues and fight for what we believe in. I'm prepared to stand there and take whatever the weather might throw at us. I'm prepared to suffer the loss of earnings that a prolonged strike will entail.

I want to provide a public service, not line the pockets of shareholders.

The continued attempts by management to undermine the strike just have the effect of strengthening the sense of unity and of injustice that me and my colleagues feel. What's more, there is a feeling among workers at the council that this could be the just the tip of the iceberg. If the IT department is privatised, other departments could be next."

To find out more about how the strike is progressing visit Swansea-ICT.org.uk. ®

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