Southampton city council have taken out a high court injunction to prevent a Unison union shop steward, Mike Tucker, telling his fellow workers the council’s plans for privatisation.
The Southampton branch of Unison, which represents 2,800 workers at the city council, has warned it could take strike action over plans to privatise up to 800 council jobs in IT, human resources, and the council tax and housing offices.
The dispute between Unison and the authority moved up a notch when a High Court injunction prevented branch secretary Mike Tucker giving his members details of the planned privatisation.
Southampton City Council claimed the gagging order was necessary in order to stop commercially sensitive information regarding the tenders submitted by companies bidding for the contract from being publicised.
Mike Tucker said, “I think most of the members could not believe they had done something like this.
“Some honestly thought it was a joke.”
He criticised the move by the council management, saying the injunction effectively gagged him as it was too wide ranging.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the council said a report commissioned by Unison into the privatisation preparations would be in breach of an existing agreement between the union and the local authorities, if it was published.
About 200 members of Unison attended a meeting last week to hear about the latest developments over the council’s proposals - called the Strategic Services Partnership.
At the meeting a motion was carried unanimously outlining a plan of action by the union in response to the plans, which could affect job security and pensions.
The workers are planning to protest at the council as it meets to discuss the privatisation plans.