Fujitsu Workers Down Tools For Strike

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Fujitsu is once again at the centre of industrial unrest after workers in Manchester walked out on strike

Workers at Fujitsu in Crewe and Manchester have gone out on a 24 hour strike, in the latest round of industrial unrest at the company.

However the strike action involved much fewer workers than had been initially expected, after the PCS Union settled its dispute with the company late last week.

It had been predicted that up to a 1,000 workers would walk out on strike on Monday in disputes over pay and a breakdown in industrial relations.

Pay Settlement

But the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union decided not to proceed with strike action after agreeing a pay deal worth up to 11 percent from Fujitsu.

PCS had claimed that pay rises of between 1.5 percent and 2.5 were “an insult” to the lowest paid staff, many of whom earn just £13,500 a year.

But the union also made clear it backed its sister union, after it “pledged its support” to Unite.

Strike Action

“While we have called off our strike, we send solidarity and support to members in Unite and call on the company to sit down with their representatives to resolve the issues,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.

300 or just 50?

Unite said that approximately 300 Fujitsu workers from the Unite union are now out on strike. But according to a Fujitsu spokeswoman, the real number is closer to 48 people.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with PCS which they will be recommending to their members to accept and will therefore not proceed with any of the industrial action they announced,” said Fujitsu in an emailed statement to eWEEK Europe UK.

“We are disappointed the action by Unite is still going ahead, however we are continuing our discussions and hope the dispute will be resolved,” it said.

According to Unite, its members are said to be picketing Fujitsu offices in Manchester and Crewe.

The Unite dispute differs from the PCS demand for improved pay, as it concerns a breakdown in industrial relations, as well as alleged breaches of agreements covering issues such as benefits and redundancy, and redeployment and victimisation of union representatives.

Union Rep

This last point concerns union rep Alan Jenney who was made redundant and reportedly not offered the chance of redeployment elsewhere.

Unite said that Jenney had been singled out, because the company had helped others hit by job losses “by supporting staff through redeployment.”

The union said the company had “seriously breached negotiated processes and agreements.”

“Our members in Manchester have fought long and hard, over many years, to get agreements on union recognition, redeployment and redundancy, pay and benefits and the company is now arbitrarily choosing break them – they have said enough,” said Kevin O’Gallagher, Unite national officer.

“Workers at Crewe have said they will not stand by and allow their rep and colleague Alan Jenney to be victimised in this manner by Fujitsu and will stand by him all the way until his situation is resolved, as will his union Unite,” added O’Gallagher. “This company has shamefully failed to honour the agreements made with the union and our members feel they have no option but to take industrial action.”

Previous Unrest

Unite members in Crewe had previously walked out on strike back in June over the treatment of Jenney.

Fujitsu has something of a track record for inciting the wrath of the unions. In January 2010, workers at the company went on strike over pay freezes, job cuts and the closure of a pension scheme. And Unite threatened strike action back in August 2009 because of the pension changes.

The Unite union has also previously criticised Fujitsu UK for announcing plans to cut around 1,200 jobs in its services arm, claiming that the moves were unnecessary given the company’s relatively healthy profits.

It is not clear at this time what the impact of the strike action has had on Fujitsu’s operations.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Ministry of Defence and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) all may have been affected, as Fujitsu workers perform many of the back office IT functions for these organisations.

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