LONDON STAFF OUTSOURCED TO SCOTLAND

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

MORE than 400 workers at Westminster City Council offices are threatening strike action after a shock announcement that they must relocate to Dingwall in the far north of Scotland, or face redundancy. The staff affected work in parking, licensing, communi

MORE than 400 workers at Westminster City Council offices are threatening strike action after a shock announcement that they must relocate to Dingwall in the far north of Scotland, or face redundancy.

The staff affected work in parking, licensing, community protection and library services, and were outsourced to a private company in 2002, but with the promise that they would remain working in Westminster until 2012.

Westminster City Council has, however, asked the contractor, Vertex, to move out of the offices it has been providing. Vertex has responded by saying there is nowhere else for them to go in London, at a price they can afford.

UNISON national officer Dave Johnson said the members were stunned by the news and very angry.

"This is pure economic greed at the expense of hundreds of jobs," he said. "It is simply not realistic to expect hundreds of staff to move, and uproot their families to live in such a remote area."

He said that Westminster council was gambling with vital services that demand good local knowledge. He asked how the move could be of any benefit to services, residents and people who work in the area.

"We will be telling Vertex and Westminster Council that they have left us with no choice but to fight back with industrial action if necessary.

"Vertex claim that they cannot afford alternative accommodation in London and Westminster City Council will not contribute or give them any leeway in the contract to help them find suitable premises."

According to Johnson the site at Dingwall has space because Vertex is outsourcing work from there to India.

"How can working people be expected to co-operate with privatisation when the consequence is that their jobs are auctioned to the cheapest labour markets either in Britain or overseas," he said.

UNISON will:

* Consult with members over possible strike action

* Challenge the business case for moving the operation to Scotland

* Talking to the council about redeployment or relief on the contract

* Lobby councillors about the injustice of treating workers - many who transferred from the council - in this way.

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