Bradford IT staff to strike

Outsourcing grows uglier

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IT staff at Bradford City Council are threatening strike action over a disputed outsourcing agreement.

Back in January 2004 staff threatened to strike when the council first mooted privatising the department. But the threat was averted after lengthy negotiations between public sector union Unison and the council.

In July IBM and IT Net were named as preferred bidders. Workers were assured that their jobs were safe and they could either transfer their employment under TUPE regulations or be seconded to the winning bidder. It was understood that some 150 jobs would go by natural wastage but there would be no redundancies. Jobs would be safe and staff would have a choice about future employment.

But IT Net has now been taken over by Serco and Unison fears jobs are under threat. Unison fears as many as one-in-three jobs are at risk, or 35 people from a total of 135.

Patrick Kerry, lead negotiator for Unison, told El Reg: “We feel the council and Serco have acted in bad faith. Staff are disappointed especially after reaching the original agreement.” The union wants guarantees on jobs or severance packages for staff.

A spokesman for Serco said the company had still to sign a contract with Bradford Council and so it would be inappropriate to comment.

The union expects to ballot its members on possible strike action between 10 and 20 June. If the vote is successful action could start from June 30.

Bradford City Council declined to comment head of a staff meeting this afternoon. ®

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