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Swansea IT strikers go marching on

Workers' rally tomorrow

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Striking IT workers in Swansea are to hold a march tomorrow in a show of support against plans to privatise the council's IT department.

One hundred IT workers currently in their fourth week of industrial action hope to be joined by hundreds of other council staff as they march from Swansea Guildhall to Castle Square tomorrow lunchtime.

The rally comes as relations between the council and IT workers hardened still further with no apparent end to the dispute in sight.

In a statement, Swansea council's cabinet has given its full backing to plans to introduce a new e-government scheme that would provide a one-stop-shop for residents to contact the local authority.

However, IT workers face being transferred to either ITNet or Capgemini in an outsourcing deal.

Said council leader Chris Holley: "The Cabinet is fully supportive of the ambitious service@swansea project which aims to improve and transform council services to the people of the city.

"Some of our staff have been concerned about where they might fit into this, particularly IT staff. The Cabinet and I have met with IT and we've re-affirmed to them our commitment to service@swansea and we've said that we are keeping all our options open about how it's going to be delivered."

But insiders have told The Register that council leaders have already decided to privatise the department.

This was rejected by a council spokesman, who said: "Swansea Council has said that there will be no decision until December when the Council's Cabinet has all the facts in front of it.

"All options will be on the table, including the option of secondment, the option that ICT staff and its union say they are campaigning for."

Despite the increased friaction between the two sides, morale among IT staff remains high, with striking workers buoyed by messages of support from council colleagues and members of the public.

Indeed, the industrial action could escalate over the coming weeks as public sector union Unison ballots 5,000 council workers in support of the IT strike. The ballot has received the green light from the union and is expected to take place within the next fortnight. ®

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