ARCHITECTS and engineers are voting on strike action amid fears that 80 jobs could go.
Workers at Kirklees Council’s Design and Property Services are deciding whether to down tools after millions of pounds worth of work was given to private companies.
The service employs architects, building surveyors, structural engineers, landscape architects and electrical engineers at Kirkgate Buildings on Byram Street.
The 186 staff design council buildings including schools, offices and libraries.
But several large contracts have been sent out to the private sector in the last four months, leading to union fears that up to 80 jobs could be cut.
Kirklees Unison spokesman Mick Ryan said: “I don’t know why the council are doing this. They are putting work out when they have qualified staff who could do it.
“Why have a dog and bark yourself?”
Some £2.1m of contracts – about a third of the service’s annual workload – has been given to private sector companies in the past four months.
Among the jobs to be contracted out is the £700,000 design of the new £7m Headfield Primary School in Dewsbury, £400,000 for the design of Dewsbury Crematorium and £400,000 each for the design of new libraries in Heckmondwike and Ravensthorpe.
The £200,000 design of the new £2m council housing development on White Lee Road in Batley has also been sent out to the private sector.
Mr Ryan fears the contracting out means job losses are on the way.
He said: “There’s still work on at the moment but it will be dropping away. I’ve heard unofficially they are looking to re-shape the service to get rid of 80 staff.”
Around 90% of the staff are Unison members.
The union is holding a ballot this week to see if staff are willing to take industrial action. Mr Ryan said: “I would have thought they will vote for industrial action.”
The ballot result will be announced early next week.
But a Kirklees Council spokesman defended the contracting out.
He said: “The council has seen a large amount of capital investment over recent years, and to manage this it operates a number of framework partnerships with local and national building contractors.
“This is recognised national best practice designed to achieve effective construction outcomes for residents and recent successes include Moorlands School, Highfields Resource Centre, Howard Park Community School and children’s centres across Kirklees.”