Council IT workers not thrilled by CGI

Union talks with IT staff at Scottish Borders Council are continuing this week in a bid to address “major issues” over their impending transfer to a private company.

The 49 employees are due to switch to Canadian-owned business process service provider CGI on October 1.

But a “comparison matrix” obtained by The Southern shows significant differences in the terms and conditions offered by the two organisations.

According to the document, council staff currently work a 35-hour week, but under CGI the standard contractual hours are 37.5 hours a week.

With regard to holiday entitlement, SBC staff with more than five years’ service get 33 days per annum, while those with less service get 28 days.

The annual holiday entitlement for all CGI employees is 25 days.

On sickness absence, council staff are entitled to six months on full pay and six months on half-pay, whereas CGI will only pay a maximum of three months full pay in any 12-month period for both short and long-term sicknesses.

And while salaries are reviewed every year by both organisations, CGI offers no guaranteed pay or cost of living increases.

“Increases are based on individual performance and take into consideration demands of the market, retention/motivation of employees and affordability to the business,” states the matrix.

Responding to these variations, Tony Trench, regional organiser of the trade union Unite, presenting the council staff, said: “Understandably, these are major issues for our members.

“The feedback we have been given is that to lose out to such an extent on terms and conditions is totally unacceptable, so we will be doing our best in the short time available to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

“Our talks with the affected staff will continue this week. We appreciate that there may be some relative advantages in the transfer with CGI operating a discretionary profit participation scheme which the council does not, but, overall, our members will clearly be losing out.”

The transfer is part of a 13-year contract announced earlier this year between the council and CGI which, as part of the deal, has chosen the Borders as the base for a new delivery centre with the potential to create up to 200 IT jobs, with Tweedbank the likely location.

The outsourcing has its roots in a report in April last year which claimed SBC’s IT department was not fit for purpose. The talks with CGI began in earnest last August when the company was awarded the City of Edinburgh Council’s IT contract, worth £186million over seven years.