Union officials are meeting the chief executive of Bradford Council today for 11th-hour talks to avert imminent strike action over a proposed £100m outsourcing deal.
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More than 100 council IT staff will take part in a two-day all-out strike beginning next Thursday (29 January), unless an agreement is reached, warned Gurjit Singh, chairman of the Bradford Unison branch.
He said, "It’s going to have a large effect on council tax collections and housing benefit payments - there will be no one to process the money coming in and going out."
Earlier this week, Unison members among the council’s 135 IT staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in response to the council’s plan to transfer staff to an outsourcer.
Council staff want the option of continuing to work for the authority once the contract is awarded, or to be offered secondment to the private company.
The three contenders for the 10-year, £100m contract, known as Bradford-i, are Atos KPMG, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and a joint bid from IBM and ITNet. The council will award the contract in July.
Some local government IT staff have already been seconded to the private sector. About 750 workers, including 200 IT professionals, were seconded to BT as part of Liverpool City Council’s joint venture deal with the telecoms giant, signed in 2001.
A Bradford Council spokesperson said that the authority has had constructive talks with union representatives and is considering a number of proposals.