UNION bosses have hit out at council proposals that could see a town hall service outsourced to a private company.

Staff in Bolton Council's Corporate Property Services department, which manages and maintains the council's property assets, have been told that they could be transferred to Carillion, a construction firm that trade unions argue has a long history of blacklisting workers.

Carillion is one a number of construction companies who were exposed as having operated secret 'blacklists' as part of illegal efforts to exclude active trade union members from the workforce on numerous building sites in the North West and across the UK.

There are 21 people currently working in the Corporate Property Services department and it is understood that that the proposals could result in just 6 full-time posts being retained within the council.

Town hall union chiefs have expressed concerns that, only a year ago, senior managers and councillors had given assurances that a restructure of the corporate property service had helped to safeguard its in-house future.

Matt Kilsby, UNISON branch chair, said: "It is totally unacceptable that a Labour Council would outsource services to companies with such a track record. In 2014 the full council agreed a motion against blacklisting practices, the council also has an ethical procurement policy. It seems incredible that this could even be considered as an option".

Alan Flatley, GMB branch secretary, added: "As joint trade unions we have met with our members. They feel passionately that the services they provide should remain in-house for the good of the town and people that use our buildings and assets."

Both UNISON and GMB have refused to rule out an industrial action ballot of their members should the Council not withdraw these proposals and commit to retaining the service in-house.

A council spokesman said: “We are currently reviewing the management of our property assets, to deliver the best service for members, staff and customers. We are in consultation with staff and the unions and no firm decision has been made on the future of the service.”

Tory leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: "I have yet to be convinced that a full out-source of the whole Corporate Property Department is the answer.

"Clearly there does need to be a fundamental change.

"There are issues around recruitment, the reliance on agency staff costing the council more, and increase in workload; but we have to be very careful that we are not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

"Some of the large companies that would be in the running have not got the best of track records themselves, and while I accept there may be a case for a company to take over the day to day asset management, performing inspections and maintenance, I think there are smarter options that could be investigated regarding the council's property portfolio and capital receipts."