24 February 2004 IT staff at Bradford Metropolitan District Council have agreed not to strike over an outsourcing contract, following a settlement which allows them to keep their current positions and pay.
Unison, the public sector union, is celebrating what it calls a “groundbreaking” settlement that it hopes will set a precedent for other outsourcing negotiations in the public sector across the UK.
Bradford employs 135 IT staff, who were due to strike on 26 and 27 February. The settlement means they will be seconded to the company that wins the outsourcing contract, rather than have their jobs transferred to the winning bidder.
“We’re the fourth largest metropolitan authority so a lot of people are looking to see what happened here. We’ve got the result we wanted, so people around the country in the same position can look to us and say, ‘We want the result that Bradford got’,” Gurjit Singh, chair of the Bradford branch of Unison, told Infoconomy.
Local authorities in Rochdale, Kirklees and Swansea, as well as the county council of North Yorkshire, are all facing similar issues with proposed outsourcing deals.
Unison is pleased with the deal because the staff will remain within local authority control and so will not face the threat of a private company changing their pay and conditions. “This is a way of improving the systems without harming the democratic control of IT,” said a Unison spokesman.
Mr Singh said that the negotiations had shown that privatisation was “not the only way” and he hoped that investment in local authority IT systems would now be delivered jointly by the public and private sectors. Bradford’s outsourcing contract is worth £100 million over 10 years. Companies competing for the deal include IBM and Cap Gemini Ernst &Young.