The threat of strikes by IT staff at Bradford council over job losses has stalled a £160m outsourcing deal that was due to be signed in May.
The lengthy IT outsourcing process has been dogged by industrial relations problems – staff balloted for strikes early last year over plans to transfer them to the successful bidder.
Agreement was later reached to second staff to the contractor, preserving their terms, conditions and local authority pension rights.
But public sector union Unison was set to begin balloting more than 100 IT staff over redundancies threatened by contractor Serco, which earlier this year acquired ITNet, the preferred bidder for the Bradford-i scheme.
Unison regional secretary Chris Jenkinson said the contract had been due to be signed on 19 May, but the union was told just days beforehand that between 25 and 35 jobs could be lost.
“Throughout the whole period, the council and the private partner said it was about additional resources for IT. To be told that staff are to go came as a massive shock,” he said.
In a statement, Bradford council said: “The chief executive has met with staff and had a frank exchange of views. Discussions are continuing.”
A spokesman for Serco said: “The dispute is a matter for the council and the unions.”