Pressure mounts in Swansea council IT strike

Talks between the Unison union and Swansea council to find a settlement to the ongoing strike by more than 100 IT staff were held...

Talks between the Unison union and Swansea council to find a settlement to the ongoing strike by more than 100 IT staff were held yesterday (24 August).

The staff are on indefinite strike in protest at possible outsourcing to Capgemini or ITNet as part of the council’s planned Service@Swansea project.

The Swansea staff do not want to be transferred to an outsourcer and have asked to be seconded from the council instead for the duration of the contract.

Earlier this summer IT staff at Bradford won an agreement to be seconded when the council prepared to award a 10 -year, £100m IT outsourcing contract.

Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, was described by a council spokesman as "informal talks about talks". A council-wide Unison meeting at 12.30pm today (Wednesday) will discuss the possible escalation of the strike to all council departments, potentially involving 5,000 staff. Refuse workers have already taken unofficial action in support of the IT staff.

Unison steward Keith Jenkins said, "I would expect that a proposal for council-wide action in support of the IT staff will come from the floor - and this would obviously be welcomed by them."

The union has claimed that ITNet is helping to provide emergency cover for the council’s critical IT systems during the strike. A spokeswoman at ITNet refused to comment on the strike or emergency cover allegedly being provided by the firm, and referred all enquiries to the council as "they are the customer".

Jenkins said several ITNet contractors had been used to provide cover. He said it was possible contractors from other firms had been used. Several IT firms were reported to have refused to provide cover, including Capgemini.

The council said it would make a decision on whether staff would transfer to the winning company in November, award the contract in December, and sign it in January 2005.

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