More than 60 Scottish Borders Council IT staff joined union officials at a mass meeting this week to voice fierce opposition to plans to outsource 80 jobs.
Employees in the information and communications technology (ICT) service at the local authority were briefed last week on the findings of a comprehensive review, including a proposal for a joint arrangement with City of Edinburgh Council that would see 80 council IT staff outsourced to a support company provider in October.
But at a packed meeting with Unite union officials in a Galashiels hotel on Monday night, there was unanimous anger and opposition over the proposals.
So serious does Unite consider the situation that its deputy regional secretary, Mary Alexander, travelled to Galashiels to address the IT workers.
And Tony Trench, Unite’s regional industrial officer, says another meeting will be held next week and there will also be a petition launched.
“And it’s not just IT staff at the council who should be worried about their jobs, IT staff at places like NHS Borders should also be concerned,” said Mr Trench.
“We disagree totally with plans to outsource any jobs and want to see the figures that have been used to justify this.”
Monday night’s meeting was also attended – as observers – by SBC Conservative councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Gavin Logan.
Conservative opposition group leader Mrs Ballantyne said the briefing given to elected members this week had left a lot of unanswered questions.
“We will be seeking answers and further information before we can consider what is the right decision for the future of ICT in the council,” she said.
“We certainly won’t be pushed blindly into agreeing to outsource the service and will need to be convinced by substantial evidence that this is the best solution.”
And in an email to all 34 councillors last week from one disgruntled IT staff member at SBC, elected members were urged to join the fight against the outsourcing of jobs.
“IT staff can earn more in the city, but we stay because we love our jobs, the quality of life the Borders has to offer, and we want to stay in the area,” stated the email.