Outsourcing row is a ‘PR catastrophe’ for council

The ongoing industrial dispute at Swansea Council
over a controversial IT outsourcing contract has been a "PR
catastrophe" and shown others how not to handle similar projects,
according to industry experts.

102-strong IT team at the council has been on strike for four weeks in protest
at plans to outsource its department in a £100m deal. Meanwhile, 700 employees
from other departments have voted to strike in support of their colleagues.

last week, 500 council employees who are members of the Unison union attended a
city centre demonstration against the privatisation plans.

Baker, regional officer for Unison, said: "At the heart of all this is the
council’s refusal to look at the other options which could still be of benefit.
Management has failed to consult every step of the way."

said IT staff only found out their department was to be outsourced when they
saw an EU publication advertising the contract. Many staff want to stay in the public sector, but they are not
being given this option, he said.

Martyn Hart, chairman of the
National Outsourcing Association, which promotes outsourcing best practice,
said basic mistakes such as not consulting staff have created a "public
relations catastrophe" for Swansea.

Gerald Clement, deputy leader at the council, accused Unison of

council has not made any decision over the future of IT staff," he said.
"We will carry out a fair and open evaluation of three options, including

is trying to scaremonger staff and the public in the hope of gaining sympathy
and support for its unnecessary strike. This is completely irresponsible.”

has voted for an industrial action ballot to be held across the whole council,
with results to be revealed at the end of the month.

Daniel Thomas



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