Job losses as Tower Hamlets council contractor moves help-desk operation to Rochdale

Tower Hamlets Council

Tower Hamlets Council - Credit: Archant

The jobs of computer staff who run the back-up desk for council services in London’s East End are being shunted out to the North of England.

Council cabinet agrees on ITC jobs moving out

Council cabinet agrees on ITC jobs moving out - Credit: Archant

A top trade union official failed to persuade last night’s Tower Hamlets Council cabinet to halt the transfer of IT jobs at its contractor’s computer centre at South Quay, on the Isle of Dogs, out to Rochdale 200 miles away.

The move comes despite Town Hall computers having gone down earlier this month, which had to be fixed by the back-up team at the Isle of Dogs.

The contract with Agilysis can now be changed half-way through to allow the company to move the operation to Rochdale, mayor John Biggs agreed.

But that means future IT job opportunities are being lost in the deprived East End, the Unison trade-union’s Tower Hamlets secretary John McGloughlin warned.

“They said it would provide jobs for young people when the partnership was set up in 2012,” he reminded the cabinet.

“I doubt many young people in east London will think there’s a great job for them in Rochdale and would move to the North.”

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There was “a catastrophic computer failure” at the Town Hall earlier this month which showed the need for a dedicated back-up, he pointed out.

The move to Lancashire is aimed at “improving 24-seven back-up”, says Agilysis.

But there was “no evidence” for 24-seven demand, Unison insists. The council’s call centre employing 120 staff has just cut its hours back because demand was concentrated in normal working hours.

Mr McGloughlin told the East London Advertiser: “They’ve gone back on the promise that all jobs would be in Tower Hamlets.

“It is about keeping jobs for the community—but this is the thin edge of the wedge.”

The back-up ICT support desk that is essential for keeping computer-led council services running was now to lose its dedicated Tower Hamlets team. The Rochdale help-desk would be a single back-up service for all the Agilysis customers, the cabinet heard.

Staff at the Isle of Dogs centre may now face compulsory redundancy, the union fears, with their jobs being lost in east London that were particularly suitable for developing new apprenticeships.