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BC Politics
Science + Tech

Government Promises Tech Workers Their Jobs Are Safe

Change in tech services provider to health authorities raises questions for 500 IT-based employees.

By Andrew MacLeod 21 Feb 2018 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

As the British Columbia government negotiates with a new provider for technology services, it will make protecting the jobs of the 500 people currently doing the job an “absolute condition” of proceeding, says Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“Absolutely it’s the intention that the employees will be supported,” Dix said in an interview. “Absolutely it’s my expectation the employees will be fully protected under any circumstances.”

The Tyee reported last week that a Ministry of Health procurement process had resulted in NTT Data Canada Inc. being chosen as the successful proponent for a contract to provide workplace technology services to the province’s health authorities and other health organizations.

IBM Canada Ltd., which had been providing the service under an earlier contract through its subsidiary ISM Canada, was named as the “vendor-in-waiting.”

The British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union represents workers at ISM and last March released a statement saying the winning bidder would be required to offer current employees positions that are not assigned to the bidder’s current employees. “The BCGEU also pledges to pursue union succession rights, to extend the protection of union membership and the current collective agreement to the members of the project.”

Dix said he started hearing concerns from ISM employees late in 2017. “The shift from one employer to another is obviously disconcerting for many of them. I understand that concern.”

He said the workers have skills that the government needs and that it’s a good thing for the government to make sure they continue doing the work. “It’s our intention to maintain that.”

A due diligence process was to begin in January, followed by contract negotiation, finalization and transition to start late in 2018 or early in 2019.

Headquartered in Japan, NTT Data provides services in 40 countries and had over C$19 billion in sales in 2017.

Ahead of the election, the NDP released an Energizing BC Tech strategy that said government IT projects had gone $350 million over budget in 2015 alone and promised to put a cap on the size and length of contracts the government would enter.  [Tyee]

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