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COUNCIL ANGER AT LACK OF COVER DURING SWANSEA IT STRIKE

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The City and County of Swansea has pledged that it will be business as usual for customers during this week's indus...
The City and County of Swansea has pledged that it will be business as usual for customers during this week's industrial action by IT staff.

The council is implementing its contingency plan to maintain IT systems and to continue providing services for customers and employees.

A council spokesman said: 'We are determined to minimise any potential disruption to our customers and employees.

'Ninety nine per cent of our employees will be in work as normal throughout the strike and all our offices will be open as usual.

'We are very disappointed that IT staff have only agreed to maintain the child protection register. They will not provide cover for 20 other critical systems such as social services, benefits and payroll.

'We have contingency plans for this kind of situation and we will be bringing in external experts to ensure we continue to provide vital services for the people of Swansea.'

The council has also expressed its regret that IT staff have chosen to strike, despite receiving assurances over their future during the past eight months of discussions.

The council is currently negotiating with two companies to deliver its vision for improving customer access to services through its ambitious Service@Swansea programme.

IT staff have been offered a set of 'Golden Guarantees', should they transfer to a private company:

- No one will lose their job as a result of the transfer

- They will not have to work outside the boundary of the city and county of Swansea

- Any future partner cannot forcibly change their terms and conditions - and there is no time limit on this agreement under the TUPE legislation

- Both bidders are willing to agree contractual terms that will ensure staff will be able to remain on their terms and conditions for the period of the contract;

- There will be no detriment to existing pension arrangements

The council spokesman added: 'The council has not yet decided whether IT staff should transfer to a private company. However, in that event we have negotiated a set of guarantees which protect their future terms and conditions.

'That is why it is so disappointing that they have decided to take strike action at this stage.

'The council is committed to improving services for our customers and we will not be diverted from that.'

A Unison statement follows:

Swansea IT workers strike against privatisation

More than 100 IT workers have gone on strike at Swansea City Council in protest at plans to privatise their jobs as part of a new enquiry system.

The council intends to implement a range of new 'e-gov' systems and set up a new call centre that will handle and process enquiries from residents.

Private IT companies have been asked to bid for the sizeable contracts, despite a lack of clarity on the future status of existing in-house IT professionals.

'At the heart of all this is the council's refusal to look at the other options which would still benefit them,' said Unsion regional officer Jeff Baker.

'Management have failed to consult every step of the way.'

IT staff only found out that their department was to be sold to a private company when they saw an EU publication advertising the contract.

Mr Baker explained that staff want to stay in the public sector performing public-service duties, but said that they weren't being given this option.

He believes the whole evaluation process is biased in favour of a TUPE transfer.

He added that there are also worries about the economic viability of the service@swansea plan, which could end up costing many back-office council jobs beyond IT.

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