A union representing thousands of staff at Cardiff council has raised the prospect of industrial action over fears hundreds of jobs will be axed in a review of back-office functions.
Over the next 18 months Cardiff council will look at alternative ways to run its HR, payroll and IT departments, including possible outsourcing.
Options outlined by the Labour administration include a collaboration with neighbouring councils or a public-private partnership, but unions labelled the proposals “privatisation in all but name”.
The unions also vowed to fight recently confirmed plans to spend an extra £1.1m a year on hiring more highly-paid senior managers, which the council says will be funded by cutting spending on consultants.
In a letter to his 4,000 members, GMB branch secretary Ken Daniels said: “As you all know, we do not lightly talk about industrial action, but we need to do something.
“They are relying on you not saying anything. They are hoping you will not do anything.
“However, we say to you all, if we roll over on this issue then there will be nothing left to fight for. They will do just what they like, whenever they like. We all need to stand together.
“We need to give a clear message to this administration. We will not stand back and watch jobs go elsewhere and we will fight for these jobs.”
In a letter to his members, Steve Belcher, regional organiser of Unison, did not go so far as to call for industrial action, but said the proposals were a “real kick in the teeth” to staff.
“We have a Labour-controlled council in Cardiff. We do not expect them to do the Tories’ dirty work and help them to fulfil their ambition of destroying the public sector,” Mr Belcher said.
“Whilst Unison is happy to work with the council to deliver top-class delivery of public services, we will not stand by and allow those services to be hived off to a predatory private provider.”
Luke Nicholas, Plaid Cymru’s candidate in the forthcoming Cardiff South & Penarth by-election, added: “This looks like an attempt to do things on the cheap. This council should not be looking to export jobs out of Cardiff, particularly when they are so hard to come by.”
In a statement, Councillor Heather Joyce, who led Labour to victory at May’s local elections, said: “We are categorically not planning to privatise any of these functions or services. Our guiding principle will be, wherever possible, that these hardworking frontline staff remain public sector employees.
“We will work with trade union colleagues to protect the frontline jobs and services we value so highly.”