5,000 Swansea workers to vote on IT strike

Holding Swansea to ransom, says council

Five thousand council workers are to balloted on industrial action next week in support of 100 IT workers striking against plans to privatise their department.

Ballot papers will be sent out to 5,000 Unison members from September 16. The result of the vote is expected to be announced before the end of the month.

One hundred IT workers began their "indefinite" strike action in mid-August in protest at plans to privatise their jobs. The threat of industrial action spreading comes amid fears that other council services could also be privatised.

Said Unison regional organiser, Jeff Baker: "The IT workers' strike is holding out because of the importance of stopping this privatisation. We are now waiting for the next round of negotiations with the council. We are asking for a guarantee that the IT workers will stay in-house as will all the other jobs in the council."

The council has countered the threat of an escalation in strike action accusing Unison of being "caught in a 1970s time warp" by "holding the people of Swansea to ransom" with a "needless all-out strike".

On Wednesday, the same day that 1,000 people marched in support of the striking IT workers, council leaders warned that any action would lead to rubbish piling up in the streets and people left unburied. Said Gerald Clement, deputy leader of Swansea Council: "Unison is threatening an all-out strike and to halt vital public services over something that may never happen. Unison must realise that this is not a game; it is playing with people's lives.

"If Unison goes on all-out strike are they happy for people not to be buried, weddings to be postponed, rubbish left in the streets, children not to be educated and the most vulnerable and needy left without vital support?"

Unison dismissed the council's scaremongering claiming it had "not been an open and fair" about poposals to introduce a new e-government scheme. ®

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