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Council's job outsourcing plans breach EBA: union

Furious staff unions have lodged a formal objection with Brisbane City Council over its handling of plans to outsource 50 information technology jobs overseas.

The Australian Services Union says the plans are in direct breach of an enterprise bargaining agreement, which states staff whose work could be outsourced must be given enough information to build a business case to bid for the work themselves.

Offshore... Brisbane City Council plans to send IT jobs to Asia.
Offshore... Brisbane City Council plans to send IT jobs to Asia. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

The council has confirmed it plans to outsource IT jobs in three work areas - help desk, project services and administration - but a spokesman for Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said a final decision on exactly where the jobs would be outsourced had not been made.

However ASU assistant secretary Jennifer Thomas said the council's staff was horrified to learn in yesterday's report that plans could be announced within weeks.

Ms Thomas said the council had only once before raised the idea of outsourcing jobs, to a firm called QPG, which was part-owned by the Local Government Association and founded by former Labor lord mayor Jim Soorley.

In 2008, Mr Soorley wanted the 156 local councils in Queensland to think of alternatives to having their own rates section, IT sections and their own payroll sections.

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Ms Thomas said the council's current proposal had her fearing the worst, because the United Kingdom structure of QPG was recently sold to India.

"It really has been a bit of a fizzer," she said.

Ms Thomas said the council's IT staff were now confused and demanding information.

"In their minds they have not been provided with a business case yet," she said.

"...There was really only some rumours about it going to some international competitors before Christmas.

"So now, the immediate view on that from staff was that they could never compete with those type of prices and they all want to keep their jobs."

Ms Thomas said, after lodging the formal complaint, the union would begin meeting with its members before deciding how to help them bid for their own jobs.

"If they have to compete with international rates with the work going overseas then that brings a new dimension into what we will have to do," she said.

The council's Finance and Administration chairman Julian Simmonds said staff and unions had been fully consulted about the plan.

Council opposition leader Milton Dick questioned why the council was considering outsourcing IT jobs to overseas firms "when there are hundreds of trained IT professionals within Brisbane who are more than capable of doing the job."

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